Inter-Group Relations (IGR): Community Tensions and Hate Crimes

Promoting Inter-Group Understanding and Addressing Community Tensions and Hate Crimes 

The Inter-Group Relations (IGR) division of the Commission on Human Relations reacts to incidents of violence and proactively provides educational workshops to reduce discrimination and hate while promoting inter-group understanding. Chicago, like other large urban cities, experiences conflicts and community tensions that are often fueled by misunderstanding and fear in areas undergoing change based on race, class or culture.  This can include gentrification, immigration, and also the relocation of public housing residents into new communities.  IGR staff members work to identify key stakeholders and leaders in these communities to discuss concerns and develop community-based solutions. This unit is regularly called upon in times of crisis to intercede in communities where violence may have occurred or has the potential for occurring.  Many of these conflicts occur in or around schools, and in communities between residents and neighbors. 



Strategies to increase awareness of civil-rights protections, prevent violence against protected classes, and advocate for hate crime victims:
  • Increase channels of communication and number of presentations regarding the civil rights protections offered under Chicago’s Human Rights Ordinance and Fair Housing Ordinance so as to reduce discriminatory actions and to increase the number of complainants served.
  • Prioritize education as a means of preventing violence against members of the protected classes and deliver workshops on hates crimes, diversity, bullying, and conflict management.
  • Convene stakeholders who work on the issue of hate crimes to develop common objectives in addressing hate crimes and further develop the infrastructure upon which hate-crime policy recommendations can be made.


Violence and hate crimes are most often based on race, religious differences, sexual orientation, or gender identity, therefore increased outreach to schools and communities is a priority.
IGR staff members can mediate community tensions and conflict. They can also deliver presentations explaining the protections offered under Chicago’s Human Rights and Fair Housing Ordinances, how to file a complaint of discrimination, and how to call for assistance if someone is a victim of a hate crime. In addition, they can advocate on behalf of victims of hate crimes.
  • Community Mediation: IGR responds to requests from individuals or communities who are involved in a dispute and attempts to reach a resolution.  A staff mediator can facilitate the communication between people in conflict and help each party understand the other person’s point of view and rights.
  • Presentations: Our professional team is ready to provide presentations on
    • Bullying
    • Disability
    • Compliance
    • Hate Crimes
    • Prejudice Reduction
  • Outreach: IGR will come to your community, school, or place of worship and discuss what your civil rights are under the law and the remedies available if you have experienced discrimination. IGR reaches out to individuals and public and private institutions to promote the Commission's services and provide information on the Chicago Human Rights and Fair Housing Ordinances as well as procedures on how to file discrimination complaints.
  • Assistance for Hate Crime Victims: IGR provides assistance to victims as their cases are litigated through the criminal courts and advocates on their behalf as they search for civil litigation alternatives.

Hate Crime Victim Assistance

If you believe you have been a victim of a hate crime, call 911 to contact the Chicago Police Department immediately! It is imperative that you tell the police why you feel that hatred was a motivating factor in the crime for the additional felony charges of hate crime to be added. If you need assistance in reporting a hate crime, call the Commission at 312.744.4874.


What Is A Hate Crime?

Hate crimes are acts of bigotry, and are committed because of the intended victim’s actual or perceived ancestry, color, creed, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability (including HIV status), or national origin.  Hate crimes not only harm the victim, but also the group in which the targeted member belongs.
Standing alone, these predicate offenses would otherwise be considered misdemeanors and carry lessor penalties. However, because of the chilling nature of hate crimes against the victim, and the actual or perceived group to which he or she belongs, the law elevates these misdemeanors to felonies which carry stiffer penalties. Perpetrators of Hate Crimes are also subject to enhanced penalties if their criminal acts are committed in places of worship, schools, cemeteries, or parks.
Hate Crimes can only be charged when another crime such as assault, battery, criminal damage to property, criminal trespass, mob action, disorderly conduct, harassment by telephone, intimidation, stalking, cyberstalking or transmission of obscene messages occurs and a specific hate motive is established.


How Can The CCHR Help?

Victim Advocacy: The Chicago Commission on Human Relations (CCHR), in conjunction with the Civil Rights Unit of the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office provides support to hate crime victims.  Commission staff and concerned community volunteers are available to accompany victims to court hearings, visit hate crime victims, and provide referrals for support services. Services may include referrals to pro bono (free) legal assistance to sue hate crime offenders in civil court for damages for psychological and physical injuries.
Education: A key component to preventing and alleviating discrimination, hate crimes and intergroup tensions is education. The CCHR offers a variety of human relations workshops and presentations to schools, religious institutions, youth agencies, and community groups on such topics as the Chicago Human Rights and Fair Housing Ordinances, prejudice reduction, hate crimes, bullying, and access to public places for people with disabilities. To request a workshop or to find out more about these programs, contact the CCHR at 312.744.2571.


What Should I Do If I Become A Victim Of A Hate Crime?

If you believe you have been a victim of a Hate Crime, call 911 immediately and report the incident to the Chicago Police Department. Tell them specifically that you believe you have been a victim of a hate crime. This is very important! If you would like assistance reporting the incident to the Police, call the CCHR at 312.744.4874 or 312.744.2571. Once a hate incident is reported to the Police, they will determine if it was a Hate Crime. The Police Department will then notify the CCHR of the incident. CCHR staff will reach out to the victim to provide information and support through the investigation and prosecution of the case.
Hate Crimes Brochure
Hate Crimes Fact Sheet

Que Es Un Crimen De Odio?

Los Crimenes de Odio son actos de intolerancia y son cometidos a causa de la pertenencia, actual o percibida, de la victima con una de las siguientes caracteristicas: ascendencia, color, credo, genero, raza, religion, orientacion sexual, discapacidad fisica or mental (incluyendo VIH) u origen nacional. Los crimenes de odio no solo hacen daño a la victima, sino tambien dañan al grupo al que la victima pertenece o con la cual el criminal la a asociado.

Sin mas, estos delitos subyacentes se consideran delitos menores y sus penalidades igualmente son menores. Sin embargo, debido a la naturaleza escalofriante de los crimenes de odio contra la victima, y el grupo asociado, la ley eleva estos delitos menores a delitos graves que llevan castigos mas severos. Aquellos que cometen crimenes de odio tambien estan sujetos a sanciones mas severas si sus actos criminales se cometen en lugares religiosos, escuelas, cementerios o parques.

Solo se puede acusar a alguien de un crimen de odio cuando se comite uno de los siguientes crimenes: agresion, asalto agravado, daño criminal a la propiedad, transgresion criminal al vehiculo o propiedad real, motin, disturbio saqueo, conducta desordenada o acoso telefonico y un motivo especifico de odio es establecido.


Como Puede Ayudar CCHR?

Defensa de las victimas: La CCHR, junto con la Unidad de Derechos Civiles del Departamento de Policia de Chicago y la Oficina de la Fiscalia del Condado de Cook, brinda apoyo a las victimas de crimenes de odio. El personal de CCHR y los voluntarios de la comunidad estan disponibles para acompañar a las victimas a audiencias judiciales, para visitar a victimas de crimenes de odio y para proporcionar referencias para servicios de apoyo. Tambien se le puede recomendar a agencias que ofrecen asistencia legal pro bono (gratuita) para demandar a aquellos que comiten crimenes de odio en los tribunales civiles por daños y perjuicios, al igual que por lesiones psicologicas y fisicas.

Educacion: Un componente clave para prevenir y aliviar la discriminacion, los crimenes de odio y las tensiones intergrupales es la educacion. La CCHR ofrece una variedad de talleres de relaciones humanas y presentaciones a escuelas, instituciones religiosas, agencias juveniles y grupos comunitarios sobre temas tales como las Ordenanzas de Derechos Humanos y Vivienda Justa de Chicago, reduccion de prejuicios, crimenes de odio, intimidacion y acceso a lugares publicos para gente con discapacidades. Para solicitar un taller o para obtener mas informacion sobre estos programas, comuniquese con la CCHR al 312.744.4874.


Que Debo Hacer Si Me Convierto En Victima De Un Crimen De Odio?

Si usted cree que ha sido victima de un crimen de odio, llame al 911 inmediatamente y reporte el incidente al Departamento de Policia de Chicago. Digales especificamante que usted cree que ha sido victima de un crimene de idio. Esto es muy importante! Si desea recibir asistencia para reportar el incidente a la policia, comuniquese con la CCHR al 312.744.4874. Una vez que un incidente de odio es reportado a la Policia, ellos determinaran si fue un Crimen de Odio. El Departamento de Policia notificara al CCHR del incidente. El personal del CCHR se comunicara con la victima para proporcionar informacion y apoyo a traves de la investigacion y enjuiciamiento del caso.

Hate Crimes Brochure - Spanish
Hate Crimes Fact Sheet - Spanish
To see a listing of the various workshops and peace circles the Commission offers, please visit workshops or presentations for more information. 


  • Kenneth Gunn, First Deputy Commissioner 312.744.1545 

Hate Crimes

  • Norman White, Hate Crimes Specialist 312.744.4874

Community Tensions

  • Aracelis Baez, Human Relations Specialist 312.742.4172
  • Jennifer Scott, Human Relations Specialist 312.744.1093
  • Cheryl Reid, Human Relations Specialist 312.744.1543


Department Main Office

Commission on Human Relations

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