The Chicago City Council Committee on Human Relations, on April 26, held a public meeting and listening session addressing the prevalence of hate crimes in the city.
The session was convened in response to the increase of hate-crimes as reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League ( ADL ), said Commission of Human Relations Commissioner Mona Noriega. She was one of a number of advocates, law enforcement officials and other stakeholders who spoke at the session.
"In regards to community, the first order of education is knowing what a hate crime is," Noriega added. She and law enforcement officials answered queries from committee members about hate-crimes investigations and adjudication in the community.
Ald. Milly Santiago ( 31st Ward ) noted that students have been identifying and presenting as transgender at younger ages, further noting that other students learn intolerant behavior from adults. She suggested that "a new layer of education" was needed in schools.
Noriega explained that the Commission therefore offers school teachings targeting not just students, but teachers, staff and parents as well, she added, noting that adults needed spaces in which to hold conversations about issues that troubled or concerned them.
Santiago agreed that that seemed to be the right strategy, noting, "It's important that we don't focus [just] on the children, because children repeat conversations."
Miriam Zeidman, ADL's midwest counsel, explained the importance of remaining vigilant about hate crimes, noting that they harm not just an individual, but that individual's community and the community at-large, "reminding all that they are not welcome."