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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 15, 1999

RYAN CREATES COMMISSION ON DISCRIMINATION AND HATE CRIMES

SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. George H. Ryan today created a new Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes to foster education efforts and help implement policies and state laws that battle violence and acts of discrimination which are based on ethnicity, religion, skin color, gender, disability or sexual orientation.

Ryan named Howard Kaplan, 57, of Highland Park, to lead the new panel. For the past eight years, Kaplan has been the chairperson of the Cook County Advisory Council on Hate Crimes. He is an attorney, CPA and managing partner of Kaplan Partners. The Commission on Discrimination and Hate crimes will be composed of as many as 40 members, who will be appointed at a later date. Ryan created the Commission in Executive Order 4, which he signed today.

During last year's campaign for governor, Ryan pledged to create the Commission as a way to help calm tensions created by discrimination and reduce hate-related violence against individuals or groups.

"Hate crimes and discrimination are crimes against both individuals and communities and they cannot be tolerated," Ryan said. "The goal of a hate crime is to send a message not just to one person, but to an entire group of people. No one person and no group should have to live in fear because of what they look like, what they believe or how they conduct their private lives."

Ryan called on the Commission to submit an annual report to the governor and the General Assembly on December 1.

The Commission will work with law enforcement, the courts, religious leaders, schools, community organizations and social service agencies to foster acceptance and tolerance; and will work to educate people on ways they can fight discrimination and hate-motivated violence.

Central to the Commission's work will be Illinois statutes concerning hate-related acts and violence. Since the early 1990s, the state has one of the nation's toughest hate crime laws, addressing crimes such as aggravated assault, battery, theft, criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct and telephone harassment committed because of the victim's race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation or disability. Violating the hate crime law is a felony crime.

A copy of the executive order is attached.

###

EXECUTIVE ORDER NUMBER 4 (1999)

EXECUTIVE ORDER CREATING THE GOVERNOR'S COMMISSION ON DISCRIMINATION AND HATE CRIMES

WHEREAS, discrimination and hate-motivated violence are crimes against both individuals and communities and cannot be tolerated; and

WHEREAS, in a free country, no person should have to live in fear because of how they look, what they believe or how they conduct their private lives; and

WHEREAS, the goal of a hate crime is not just to injure one person, but to send a message of intimidation to a whole group of people; and

WHEREAS, since the early 1990s, Illinois has had one of the nation's toughest hate crime statutes, addressing crimes such as aggravated battery, theft, criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct and telephone harassment committed because of the victim's race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation or disability; and

WHEREAS, no one is truly safe when hate and discrimination is tolerated;

THEREFORE, I, George H. Ryan, order the following:

I.ESTABLISHMENT

There shall be established the Governor's Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes.

II.PURPOSE

The purpose of the Commission shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

A.to help ensure that state and local governments, including law enforcement and the judicial system, respond swiftly and appropriately to incidents of discrimination and to hate crimes.

B.to work in partnership with community leaders, educators, religious leaders, social service agencies, elected officials and the public to identify and uproot sources of discrimination and bias at the source.

C.to help ensure that the state's laws addressing discrimination and hate-related violence are widely known and used correctly to help eradicate and prevent crimes based on discrimination and intolerance.

D.to make recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly for statutory and programmatic changes necessary to eliminate discrimination and hate-based violence.

E.to help implement recommendations by working with the Governor's agencies, the General Assembly, the business community and other organizations.

III.MEMBERSHIP

A.the commission shall consist of a chairperson and at least 20 but not more than 40 additional members, all appointed by the Governor.

B.members may include, but are not limited to, persons who are active in and knowledgeable about the following areas: law enforcement, the criminal and civil justice system, education, human services, business and industry, arts and culture, social services and religion.

C.members shall serve without compensation, but may reimbursed for expenses.

D.the Commission will be provided assistance and necessary staff support services by the Office of the Governor and the agencies of state government involved in the issues to be addressed by it.

E.the Commission shall submit an annual report to the Governor and the General Assembly by December 1 of each year.

IV.EFFECTIVE DATE

This executive order Number 4 (1999) shall be effective upon filing with the Secretary of State.

GEORGE H. RYAN
Governor of Illinois
February 15, 1999


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