Wicker Park Lutheran Church, 1500 N. Hoyne Ave., was the site of two alleged hate crimes in mid-June. Credit: Wicker Park Lutheran Church/Provided

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DOWNTOWN — City officials must do more after the number of hate crimes in Chicago rose 60 percent in 2019, aldermen told Human Relations Comm. Mona Noriega.

While several aldermen said they were stunned and appalled by the spike, Noriega said she was not surprised, noting similar increases across the country against people based on their immigration status, sexual orientation and religion.

“I don’t think that’s unusual in regards to what the context of the United States is,” Noriega said.

Seventy-seven hate crimes have been reported to the Commission on Human Relations by the police so far this year, Noriega said. In all of 2018, there were 78 hate crimes reported to police, Noriega said.

“It’s incredibly troubling that that has jumped up, and I think it’s something all of us should take into consideration,” said Ald. Harry Osterman (48), who warned Noriega that hate-crime complaints would continue to spike in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election as President Donald Trump continues to exploit racial, ethnic and religious divisions during his bid for re-election.

Read Noriega’s full statement.

Ald. Maria Hadden (49) said the commission should get additional funding to aid victims, while Ald. Andre Vasquez (40) said he wanted to see a robust public relations campaign urging people not to use racist, misogynistic and anti-gay language.

The commission is charged with enforcing the Chicago Human Rights and the Fair Housing ordinances.

Despite the increase in hate crimes reported to the police department, complaints filed directly with the commission between Jan. 1 and Oct. 4 dropped by 24 percent, Noriega said.

Approximately a third of complaints involved housing discrimination, while an equal number focused on employment discrimination and the remainder alleged discrimination in public accomodations.

Noriega said that drop was in line with other big cities.

“We suspect the Trump Administration’s attack on communities of color may be one of many factors for the lower complaint numbers. In particular immigrants, as a group, are a vulnerable population that is often reluctant to reach out to government for assistance, which has only been exacerbated by the anti-immigrant sentiment coming out of Washington,” Noreiga said. 

The commission has “ramped up” its outreach efforts and “accelerated” efforts to translate materials into languages other than English.

The most frequent kind of complaint alleges discrimination against Housing Choice Voucher holders, sometimes referred to as Section 8, Noriega said.