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UIC to host second hate-crimes summit
by Melissa Wasserman
2017-10-11

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Raising awareness and action against hate, the Hate Crime Coalition brings the Hate Crime Summit: Bridging Systems Against Hate to University of Illinois at Chicago ( UIC ) on Wed., Oct. 25.

This is the second year that the Hate Crime Coalition is delivering the Hate Crime Summit, with the first in 2014.

"I think our environment has changed," said Mona Noriega, commissioner of the Chicago Commission on Human Rights ( CCHR ). "I think we're in an environment where we are hearing reports of hate speech, hate incidents, hate crimes across the country."

The Hate Crime Coalition is a group of individuals who represent the various stakeholder agencies that work to address the issue of hate crimes, in their respective jurisdiction or areas of expertise. The CCHR assembled the coalition in 2011 and since then the coalition has delivered numerous training and educational forums.

"Each of the members of the Hate Crime Coalition bring a different perspective and are involved differently in addressing hate crimes as an issue," said Noriega.

The event is geared toward service providers, educators, researchers, students, community groups, law enforcement, policy-makers and others who can play a role in addressing hate crimes. Attendees in the legal, social work and law enforcement fields also have the opportunity to earn learning credits through some of the summit's workshops.

The purpose of the summit is to provide an opportunity to raise awareness regarding hate crimes, while addressing the barriers to reporting hate crimes, as well as providing a space for networking, collaboration and study.

"We see there is underreporting and we think that that is a problem that we can help address by raising the issue, by educating the various communities and stakeholders around what a hate crime is, how to report it, why is it important, what it looks like, how it affects different communities, so we're really hoping to raise the issue to all the people—all the various stakeholders," said Noriega.

Holding this summit in October was done to commemorate the anniversary of the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act that President Obama signed into law in October 2009. The message is that hate crimes continue to increase and be an everyday reality.

"It's an opportunity to call attention to the legal protections that we have," said Noriega.

The summit's workshops will be divided into breakout sessions throughout the day and will include: Law Enforcement: Responding to Hate Crimes; Hate Crimes and Community; Bystander Intervention Training; Active Shooter Training; Intersection Between LGBTQ Youth and Hate Crimes; How to Have Hard Conversations; Coalition Building and Affirmative Community Responses to Hate Crimes; Disability and Hate Crimes, Race; Racism and Hate Crimes.

There will also be a lunch time performance of "Forging From Fire," which tells the various journeys that individual Youth Empowerment Performance Project ( YEPP ) ensemble members have taken to build lasting relationships and how circumstances, behaviors and choices can cause compromising situations.

Featured speakers will include Kimberly M. Foxx, the first African-American woman to lead the Cook County State's Attorney's Office; Christian Picciolini, a former white supremacist turned entrepreneur and peace advocate; Pardeep Kaleka, a licensed therapist and founder of Serve2Unite; and Stephen Scaffidi, a radio talk show host and former mayor of Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

"People can benefit by learning," said Noriega. "Some of the breakout sessions will offer some skill building. It's an opportunity to create community to connect with others who are of like-mind in terms of wanting to denounce hate crimes and who affirmatively work to address hate crimes."

Noriega said she hopes the summit will help "to educate people, to inform them, mobilize them, help them understand what the law is, encourage communities to access the law, access services that are available to them, understand when to report, who to report to, how to report."

Kim Hunt, executive director of Pride Action Tank, is facilitating the "How to Have Hard Conversations" workshop at this year's Hate Crime Summit. Having been on the planning committee for the Hate Crime Summit in 2014, Hunt said she wanted to attend this year to help educate and be part of the conversation.

"I wanted to get involved because hate crimes are under-reported, so I think it's important to educate people on what a hate crime is," said Hunt. "I also want to be a part of discussions that involve finding ways to make sure hate crime victims have the supports they need."

"This summit is so important this year because the tenor of the previous presidential election has created an environment for hate to come out of the closet," said Hunt. "Hate crimes have gone up, white supremacist groups are gaining visibility and policies are being put forth that attack the most marginalized in our society. In times like these, people need to know that there are laws on the books that protect them and we need to give notice to those who seek to do harm based on identity need to know that their crimes will undergo a high level of scrutiny."

Hunt added that many hate crimes are directed towards LGBTQ people, particularly gender expansive people.

"Our community needs to know about their protections through hate crimes legislation at the federal and local levels," said Hunt about the LGBTQ community. "Our organizations also need to have this knowledge as they do outreach to other communities."

For more information about the 2017 Hate Crime Summit, visit: www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cchr/supp_info/2017HateCrimesSummit.html .


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