Reported hate crimes skyrocketed in Chicago in 2022, nearly doubling from the year before, police data shows.
And as hate crimes rise sharply , several authorities are warning of a heightened threat this weekend because of a neo-Nazi-planned “National Day of Hate.”
The Illinois State Police are urging heightened vigilance as antisemitic groups share extremist messaging online encouraging hate actions this weekend.
The antisemites have pushed plans to “drop banners, place stickers and flyers, and vandalize” on Saturday, according to a community alert from the Chicago Police Department’s 24th District, which includes large Jewish communities on the North Side.
CPD said Friday there was “no actionable intelligence” on specific hate threats in a statement to the Tribune. The department is working closely with leaders in the Jewish community and faith-based communities, according to the statement.
The Cook County state’s attorney’s office said in a Friday statement it is working with law enforcement and would aggressively prosecute any acts of hate.
The weekend threat comes as hate crimes are on the rise across the country in recent years.
In Chicago, 202 reported hate crimes were reported in 2022, up from 109 in 2021, according to CPD data.
The attacks included a man smashing windows and spray-painting swastikas on synagogues and at a Jewish girls’ school and the defacement of a rainbow “Love Wins” mural on a Jefferson Park garage.
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In early January, a Black-owned Bridgeport cafe was vandalized with messages saying “Black Lives Don’t Matter.”
Over the last decade, the number of hate crimes reported annually hovered around 60 per year before steadily rising and finally reaching 100 in 2021. Hate crimes last surpassed Chicago’s 2022 total in 2001, according to CPD data.
Last year’s hate crimes were most commonly motivated by bias against Black people, Jewish people and gay men. Assault, battery or criminal damage were the most common hate crimes and typically occurred at residences or on city streets, the CPD data shows.
The 2022 spike included a rise in hate acts committed with anti-Black and anti-Jewish bias. Acts motivated by bias against Asian people, white people, LGBTQ+ people and Latino people also were up substantially last year.
While the numbers are concerning for David Goldenberg, Midwest regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, they weren’t surprising.
“We had responded to more incidents by Halloween of last year than we had the entire year previously,” Goldenberg said.
The ADL reported 97 white supremacist actions in Illinois in 2021. That number rose to 162 in 2022, Goldeberg said. The FBI and ADL have tracked national highs in hate crimes too, he added.
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The threats for this weekend started with a neo-Nazi group in Iowa but have been endorsed and shared online by various extremist groups, Goldenberg said.
“While they might be calling for this ‘National Day of Hate,’ we’ve seen a steady uptick in these types of incidents in the state and across the country,” he said.
The broad uptick in hate crimes might stem in part from better tracking and reporting, he noted.
“But the reality is more incidents are actually occurring,” Goldenberg said. “We see groups being targeted based on their identity. We see dramatic increases in hate crimes and hate incidents targeting members of the Black, Jewish, LGBTQ+ and Asian American communities in particular.”
Goldenberg noted that a 2021 ADL report showed “an even greater problem.” While hate acts had been steadily rising, the percentage of Americans expressing antisemitic attitudes sharply rose, he said. It’s incumbent on everyone to speak out against hate, respond to misinformation with facts and show support and strength with targeted communities, he said.
“There’s a clear choice here,” Goldenberg said. “Are you going to hate or are you going to love? Are you going to hate or are you going to be tolerant? Are you going to hate or are you going to be inclusive?”