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May 21, 1999


SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced the names of 40 members of his Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes.

"Recent events in this state and around the country are sad reminders that hate crimes are an issue that deserves serious attention and immediate action," Ryan said. "I believe the newly-appointed members of the Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes are abundantly qualified take a leadership role in eliminating these cowardly acts," he said.

The Commission's charge is 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.

In February, Ryan named Attorney Howard Kaplan, 57, of Highland Park, to lead the new panel. Kaplan, a certified public accountant and managing partner of Kaplan Partners, has been the chairperson of the Cook County State's Attorney's Hate Crimes Prosecution Council for the past eight years. Kaplan said the Commission, created in Executive Order 4, will hold its first meeting in June.

"Tolerance and respect for individual beliefs and cultures are not merely options that people can choose to ignore because of their own prejudices. Tolerance and respect are requirements for law and order in a civilized society," Kaplan said. "It is inherently unfair to the people of this state and unconscionable for compassionate people to hear about discrimination and yet not try to do something to stop it."

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.

As part of its charge, the Commission will submit an annual report to the governor and the General Assembly on December 1. The Commission also 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 had 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.

The list of Commissioners is attached.



Howard Kaplan of Chicago, Cook County State's Attorney's Hate Crimes Prosecution Council Chair

Attorney General Jim Ryan
Sen. Kathleen Parker of Northbrook, State Senator
Sen. Kimberly Lightford of Maywood, State Senator
Rep. Larry McKeon of Chicago, State Representative
Rep. Sidney Mathias of Buffalo Grove, State Representative
Patrick Baiskauskas of Springfield, Activist
Debbie Bretag of Chicago, Illinois Center for Violence Prevention
Nikita L. Buckhoy of Chicago, Horizons Community Services
Rev. Christopher Bullock of Chicago, The Progressive Baptist Church Inc.
Thomas C. Castellano of Carbondale, SIU Dept. of Administration and Justice
James Compton of Chicago, President and CEO of Chicago Urban League
Lawrence Elowe of Chicago, New Day Systems
Rick Garcia of Chicago, Illinois Federation for Human Rights
Dorothy Hajdys-Holman of Chicago Heights, Parent of slain gay son
Debbie Hartman of Chicago, The Claridge Group
Richard Hirschhaut of Chicago, Anti-Defamation League
Ian Jacobs of Winnetka, New Trier High School -- Sophomore Student
Bennett Kaplan of Chicago, U.S. Attorney's Office
Ken Kerns of Rockford, Disability Advocate
Sheriff William J. Kilquist of Murphysboro, Jackson County Sheriff's Department and President Illinois Sheriff's Assoc.
Michael Kotzin of Chicago, Jewish Community Relations Councils
Kevin Lyons of Peoria, Peoria County States Atty. and Pres. IL States Attorney Assoc.
Patricia Mendoza of Chicago, Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund
Thaddeus S. Machnik of Chicago, Advocates Society
Sheri Mecklenburg of Chicago, Attorney
Police Chief John Millner of Elmhurst, Elmhurst Police Department
Nasser Nubani of Chicago, Muslim Bar Assoc.
Rev. John J. Piderit, SJ of Chicago, Loyola University Chicago
Sgt. Anthony Scalise of Chicago, Chicago Police Department
Eugene Scott of Chicago, Chicago Defender Newspaper
Rev. Johnny Scott of East St. Louis, NAACP
Judge Stuart Shiffman of Springfield, Sangamon County Associate Circuit Court
Faith Smith of Chicago, Native American Educational Services College
Janie F. Smith of Centralia, Women's Bar Assoc.
Alan Spellberg of Chicago, Cook County State's Attorney's Office
Camille R. Taylor of Bloomington, Teacher
Rose M. Harris-Wesson of Springfield, AARP
Woodie T. White of Chicago, Columbia College
William Yoshino of Chicago, Japanese American Citizen League
Rabbi Ira S. Youdovin of Chicago, Chicago Board of Rabbis


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