FBI seeks to combat hate crimes with anti-Islamic, anti-Jewish incidents on the rise in Chicago

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel, Tom Jones, Maggie Green and Adriana Aguilar WLS logo
Wednesday, November 15, 2023
Hate crime reports on the rise in Chicago
The FBI is seeking to combat hate crimes as anti-Islamic and anti-Jewish incidents have been on the rise in Chicago since the Hamas-Israel war started.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There is a sweeping jump in the number of hate crimes reported to Chicago police, according to police figures just released and analyzed by the I-Team.

The number of reported hate-crime incidents this year through the end of October has already surpassed the total number of reports in 2022, according to data from the Chicago Police Department.

About two dozen of the incidents reported locally occurred in the days following the Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas.

But, Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly told the I-Team it's not just the Israel-Hamas War that has triggered a spike in local hate crimes.

"There have been a variety of threats over the past couple of years, not just after October 7, but even before October 7," Kelly said.

In 2023, there have been at least 256 reported hate crimes as of Oct. 31, compared to 206 for the full year of 2022.

According to the newly-obtained Chicago police data, since Oct. 7, there have been 18 reported anti-Jewish hate crimes in Chicago, and seven anti-Muslim hate crimes reported to police.

Alleged anti-Jewish crimes are headed toward last year's total number of crimes, while anti-Muslim hate crimes are already more than three times the number reported in all of 2022, the ABC7 I-Team found.

The figures also show the number of reported hate crimes against several groups this year have already surpassed previous annual figures, and in some cases, the 2023 figures are the highest number of incidents reported in a single year since 2012.

  • Anti-Black/African-American hate crimes: 65 reported incidents through October 2023 compared to 47 in 2022
  • Anti-Gay (Male) hate crimes: 31 reported incidents through October 2023 compared to 25 in 2022
  • Anti-Hispanic/Latino hate crimes: 25 reported incidents through October 2023 compared to 17 in 2022
  • Anti-Islamic hate crimes: 15 reported incidents through October 2023 compared to 4 in 2022
  • Anti-Lesbian hate crimes: 6 reported incidents through October 2023 compared to 3 in 2022

The hate crime figures include undetermined reports, reports pending investigation, as well as bona-fide reports. In its analysis, the I-Team excluded reports deemed "unfounded."

A majority of the bona-fide hate crimes reported to Chicago police in 2023 were battery and assault crimes.

Despite the high figures, law enforcement experts told the I-Team hate crimes are often underreported, and that these problems are likely even worse than the numbers suggest.

But, a major Federal Bureau of Investigations counter-hate crime initiative is aiming to change that.

The White House announced in September that the FBI has elevated civil rights violations and hate crimes enforcement for prioritization among its 56 field offices.

The Department of Justice also launched this year the "United Against Hate" program in all U.S. attorney's offices to "strengthen trust between law enforcement and communities," and to "teach community members how to identify and report hate crimes and hate incidents," the White House said.

Across the United States, the National Fusion Center Association operates 80 intelligence headquarters that monitor terrorism and hate crimes reported across the region.

Mike Sena, the President of the National Fusion Center Association, told the I-Team these types of crimes reported go beyond freedom of speech.

"Once you step over the line of freedom of speech, then that becomes something that we have to do an assessment of," Sena said.

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