Cook County Prosecutors Looking to Add New Specialist Role Amid Growing Number of Hate Crime Reports

Leighton Criminal Court Building (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)Leighton Criminal Court Building (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office is creating a new specialist position aimed at tackling hate crimes and improving community relations amid a growing number of such crimes in Chicago and beyond.

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The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office this week announced it is adding a new position — hate crimes specialist — in response to the “growing need to address hate crimes amid a challenging global climate.”

“In the face of rising hate crimes, it’s crucial that we proactively cultivate a culture of tolerance and understanding,” Foxx said in a statement. “This appointment represents our dedication to fostering unity and empathy, as we recognize that hate has no place in a just society.”

According to Foxx’s office, this specialist will work within the state’s attorney’s existing hate crime outreach program, with a focus on increasing community awareness, education and response strategies to combat hate crimes.

Once hired, the specialist will run seminars and training sessions to educate Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office staff and the public on the ways to recognize and address hate crimes, building relationships with stakeholders to enhance hate crime reporting and helping create and launch a hate crime council to aid in improving investigation and prosecution procedures.

“We recognize the importance of actively listening to and collaborating with community stakeholders,” Foxx added. “This new role is a crucial step forward in our ongoing efforts to build trust, promote understanding and ensure justice for all.”

According to Chicago Police Department data, there were 302 hate crimes recorded in the city in 2023. That marked a 48% spike over the previous year’s total and represented the most hate crimes recorded in any single year in Chicago since at least 2012.

Already there have been 90 hate crimes in Chicago reported in 2024, which is more than the city saw in any single year from 2012 to 2018, the police data shows.

Hate crimes based on race, ethnicity or ancestry have accounted for a majority of these crimes locally in each of the past 12 years. But in 2024, religious-based hate crimes (accounting for 43 of those 90 reported crimes) are currently the most predominant, according to the CPD data.

That surge coincided with the start of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war late last year, which has led to reports of increased hate crimes targeting people in the U.S. of both Jewish and Palestinian descent.

Last month, Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th Ward) wrote in an op-ed that since last October, antisemitic messages have been left on cars and private property in six different Chicago communities.

In suburban Plainfield Township, just outside Cook County, 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume was killed and his mother seriously wounded in a knife attack in October allegedly carried out by their landlord, who authorities said was upset over the Israel-Hamas war and attacked them after Wadea’s mother had urged him to “pray for peace.”

The U.S. Justice Department has since opened a federal hate crimes investigation into that attack.

Those interested in applying for the hate crimes specialist role can do so here.

“By addressing hate crimes head-on and empowering communities to stand together against bigotry,” Foxx said, “we take a significant step towards building a more inclusive and equitable future for all.”

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson[email protected] | (773) 509-5431

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