Hate Crimes and Bias Incidents

What constitutes a Hate Crime?

Illinois state law states that hate crimes are criminal acts committed by reason of the actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin of another individual or group of individuals, regardless of the existence of any other motivating factor or factors.  Examples of criminal acts that become hate crimes under Illinois law because they are committed by reason of the victim's protected class status include: assault, battery, aggravated assault, misdemeanor theft, criminal trespass to residence, misdemeanor criminal damage to property, criminal trespass to vehicle, criminal trespass to real property, mob action or disorderly conduct, or harassment by telephone or through electronic communications.

How does a Bias Incident differ from a Hate Crime?

A bias incident is an action in which a person is made aware that her/his status is offensive to another, but does not rise to the level of a crime.

What constitutes a Bias Incident?

Bias is a pre-formed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons who possess common characteristics, such as skin color, or cultural experiences, such as religion or national origin. Bias incidents involve actions committed against a person or property that are motivated, in whole or in part, by the bias against race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes as required by law and that interferes with one's educational opportunities or disrupts the learning environment. By contrast, a hate crime is a criminal offense committed against a person or property that is motivated, in whole or in part, by bias against a race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, age or religion.  All hate crimes are bias incidents, but not all bias incidents are hate crimes.  The bias incidents that will be addressed by the Bias Response Team include actions that are motivated by bias but may not meet the necessary elements required to prove a crime.

What constitutes Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment?

The University of Chicago’s Policy on Harassment, Discrimination, and Sexual Misconduct describes such behavior as objectively unreasonable "verbal or physical conduct that is so severe or pervasive that it has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or educational program participation, or that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment." Such behavior must be based on "factors irrelevant to admission, employment, or program participation," such as "race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, veteran status, or other protected classes under law."

What is Hate Speech?

According to the organization, Partners Against Hate, hate speech can consist of "bigoted and prejudiced language," spoken or written. It is often classified as a bias incident; however, if the language threatens violence or involves property damage, such as in the case with bias-motivated graffiti, hate crime laws may apply (Partners Against Hate, http://www.partnersagainsthate.org/)