There’s “hate in the Prairie State,” according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League.
The report finds an increase in antisemitic incidents, hate crimes, white supremacist propaganda and more in Illinois. The state isn’t alone, the report says, pointing to an increase in a range of extremist activity nationwide over the past two years.
“It tells us that Illinois isn’t immune to these increases in hate and extremism,” said David Goldenberg, midwest regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.
Illinois had the seventh-highest number of antisemitic incidents in the country, according to the report. In 2022, the number of incidents increased by 128% from 2021, rising from 53 to 121.
The types of incidents recorded include antisemitic comments toward Jewish students from Deerfield High School in May 2023 to vandalism at six Jewish institutions and Jewish-owned business in January 2022.
Technology is a driving factor of the increase, Goldberg said. Business models and algorithms profit off of hate, he added.
There’s also been an increase in white supremacist propaganda distribution — increasing by 111% from 2021 to 2022.
The group most responsible for that activity was Patriot Front, a Texas-based white supremacist group with members across the country, according to the report. In 2022, the group distributed at least 142 pieces of propaganda in Illinois.
In a state seen as a safe-haven for abortions, several abortion providers and supporters in Illinois have been targeted by extremism in the past couple years. A 73-year-old man pleaded guilty last month to attempted arson of a reproductive health clinic in Danville. A Planned Parenthood clinic in Peoria was set on fire in January — and the man who set fire to the clinic was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The report also documented 10 anti-LGBTQ+ incidents in Illinois, pointing to a “national wave of bigoted action against the LGBTQ+ community.”
Goldberg said officials are already receptive to addressing these issues.
“We have a state government, we have local officials, who don’t really need a lot of convincing that we’ve got a problem here,” Goldberg said.
However, he’d like to see a comprehensive strategy to address domestic terrorism and extremism from officials.