Lincoln Park alderman to introduce ordinance that could impose fines for antisemitic flyering

Antisemitic flyering on the rise in Lincoln Park, across Chicago

Michelle Gallardo Image
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Ordinance to impose fines for antisemitic flyering to be introduced
Lincoln Park Alderman Timmy Knudsen said he will introduce an ordinance into the Chicago City Council to deter hate speech and antisemitic flyering.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It was a week ago Monday when Lincoln Park residents living along Belden Avenue from Geneva Terrace to Clark awoke to dozens of Ziploc bags containing antisemitic messages along with a substance that appears to be rat poison.

"On every doorstep coming up the street, there were these bags. I picked up a few of them and was horrified to see what they were, and of course, my 4-year-old was, 'Mommy, what is that?'" said Arden Joy.

And yet, despite the clear escalation in what has been months of antisemitic flyering not just in Lincoln Park, but across the city, because there is no victim and hate speech is protected, police are generally powerless to do anything about it.

"What occurred last week, even if we know the person who did it we have no lever to give them a ticket. Yet they terrified a whole community. They made the whole Jewish community in Lincoln Park feel afraid," said 43rd Ward Alderman Timmy Knudsen.

It's why Knudsen says he plans to introduce a proposed ordinance on Wednesday into the Chicago City Council that would deter those who distribute such materials by imposing a fine on them if caught.

READ MORE | Chicago Jewish leaders refuse meeting with Mayor Brandon Johnson on antisemitism in the city

"Currently, hate incidents as we define them in Chicago are not covered under the criminal code. What this does is attach a ticket that can be at minimum $500, at maximum, $1,000," Knudsen said.

Antisemitic flyering has been on the rise nationally, leading other cities and states across the country to either pass or consider similar legislation. All have attempted to stay on the right side of the First Amendment by limiting themselves to imposing civil penalties.

Admitting the challenge of dealing with these types of incidents, the Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday released its 2023 report pointing to a dramatic rise in antisemitic incidents, especially post-October 7.

SEE ALSO | Antisemitic incidents in US hit all-time high, Anti-Defamation League report shows

"We have seen a 74% year over year increase in antisemitic incidents here in Illinois, and we've seen a nearly 400% increase in nearly five years. And that's just not OK," said ADL Midwest Regional Director David Goldenberg.

While the proposed ordinance will be introduced on Wednesday, Knudsen readily admits it will likely go through several revisions before advancing. His hope, however, is that it can be done before the Democratic National Convention this summer.