|Alderman Edward M. Burke|
Burke said he will be joined by five City Council colleagues in introducing the measure: Aldermen William B. Cochran (20th), Nicholas Sposato (38th), Anthony V. Napolitano (41st), Derrick G. Curtis (18th) and Christopher Taliaferro (29th). All are former police officers or firefighters, Burke said.
Chicago’s current hate crime law applies to individuals who target victims based on race, sex, religion, national origin, age, ancestry, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability or active or prior military status.
“We need to extend to our first responders every possible protection,” Burke said. “Each day, police officers and firefighters put their lives on the line to ensure our well-being and security. It is the goal of this ordinance to give prosecutors and judges every tool to punish those who interfere with, or threaten or physically assault our public safety personnel.”
Under the current law, an individual may be charged with a hate crimes violation in conjunction with the commission of another crime such as an assault, trespass, mob action, vandalism, or harassment by telephone when a specific hate motive is established.
The amendment also seeks to strengthen the City’s Hate Crimes Ordinance by increasing fines from $500 to $2,500. Violators would face up to six months in prison.
Thomas Ryan, president of Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2, which represents firefighters and paramedics, endorsed the measure.
“The job of a first responder is to serve, protect and render aid to citizens in crisis. All too often, these first responders fall victim to physical violence and personal assault," Ryan said. “This ordinance will provide added protection to first responders who risk their lives in service to others while also adding consequences for those who feel compelled to attack them in the performance of their duty.”
The aldermen proposed simultaneously a companion resolution which urges lawmakers in Springfield to expand the state’s hate crime law to similarly protect current and former law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel and military service personnel.
Violation of the Illinois Hate Crimes Law is a Class 3 or Class 4 felony for a first offense and a Class 2 felony for a second or subsequent offense.
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