By Frank Abderholden, Lake County News-Sun, January 15, 2020
The Lake County Board adopted a resolution celebrating diversity Tuesday after being addressed by the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), who was given extra time as a public speaker to update the board on the rise of hate and racism in the area.
Tuesday’s board appearance came after a Lake Zurich school was painted with a swastika two weeks ago, and a Wauconda park district playground was also hit with racist graffiti concerning Jews and other ethnicities early last year.
Both incidents were mentioned by David Goldenberg, regional director of the ADL’s Midwest regional office.
“We need to push back or fight back against this new escalation of hate we are seeing. Unfortunately, it’s not just here in Lake County, but it’s throughout the country,” Goldenberg told County Board members.
According to Goldenberg, the ADL has tracked anti-Semitism for the last 40 years, and the number of incidents in 2017 and 2018, the most recent years for which statistics are available, were the second- and third-largest totals.
“We actually saw a 105% increase in physical assaults,” he said.
“Here in the Midwest, (we’ve) seen a 110% increase in anti-Semitism. The Midwest far exceeds the pace we see nationally,” he said, mentioning Lake Zurich and Wauconda incidents.
He said elementary schools had a 46% increase in incidents, and college campuses saw an 86% increase nationally.
“When we look at incidents, we’re talking harassment, vandalism and assault. The reality here now is it is not just about anti-Semitism,” Goldenberg said. He added that there has been a dramatic increase in hate crimes against Latinex, blacks and religious groups like the Sikhs.
“The reality is no one is immune,” he said, adding that hate crimes not only affect individuals, but the whole community.
The County Board resolution, which had been discussed at Friday’s committee of a whole meeting, states that, “Lake County is committed to fostering a culture that embraces diversity and inclusion, and seeks to understand our differences and leverage the power of diverse perspectives and people in order to shape a brighter future for our communities.”
The resolution condemns “any verbal or non-verbal attacks, harassment or intimidation based on race, ethnicity, color, immigration or refugee status, religion or creed, gender or sexual orientation, age, mental or physical disability, veteran status, or other social identities, as well as discourse that disrespects or degrades people’s identities, needs and beliefs.”
The last paragraph states that, “Lake County stands against hate and discrimination and affirms that Lake County should be a welcoming community for all.”
“I bring it forward today in light of recent events,” said Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart, adding that board members had attended a summit in 2017 at the College of Lake County with a number of other groups committed to ending abuse, including domestic, child and senior abuse, along with human trafficking and hate crimes.
According to Hart, “several government agencies” passed resolutions in support of the effort, but the County Board never did prior to Tuesday. The measure was passed unanimously by the board members present.