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March 7, 2000

Governor's Commission On Discrimination and Hate Crimes Convenes In Springfield

SPRINGFIELD - Governor George H. Ryan today joined members of the Governor's Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes and Springfield-area residents to discuss ways to combat intolerance.

"I want our children and grandchildren to grow-up in an environment where they will not live in fear of senseless violence or degrading discrimination," Ryan said at the meeting. "With information gathered from this meeting and others held throughout the state, we can develop and implement policies that make it very clear that intolerance, discrimination and gender violence will not be tolerated in Illinois."

Ryan created the Governor's Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes last year in an executive to foster education efforts and help implement policies and/or state laws that battle violence and acts of discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, skin color, gender, disability or sexual orientation.

In addition to input from local residents, the 40-member commission, chaired by Howard Kaplan, has been working with law enforcement officials, religious leaders, schools, community organizations and social service agencies. "We have a substantial agenda for this year in our fight to combat discrimination and hate crimes," Kaplan said. "Hearing from the citizens of Springfield allows the Commission to focus attention on the needs of the community so effective solutions can be constructed for communities throughout the state."

Currently, Illinois 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.

Today's "town-hall" meeting in Springfield was the 2nd of six scheduled for this year. The first town-hall meeting of 2000 was held last month in Rockford. East St. Louis, Peoria, McHenry County and Chicago will host similar meetings in the coming months.


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