Two weeks after school vandalized with swastikas, Lake County Board condemns hate

News from the media

By Russell Lissau, Daily Herald, January 14, 2020

Two weeks after swastikas were spray-painted at a Lake Zurich school, the Lake County Board on Tuesday adopted a resolution condemning hate and discrimination.

The resolution decries verbal or physical 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."

It also denounces communication that disrespects or degrades people's identities, needs and beliefs.

"Lake County must be a place that respects our differences and believes that diverse perspectives create better outcomes," the resolution states.

The county, the resolution concludes, "should be a welcoming community for all."

The resolution was adopted at the first county board meeting since a large, spray-painted swastika was discovered on an exterior wall at Seth Paine Elementary School in Lake Zurich. That happened Dec. 30 -- the final day of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah.

Two smaller swastikas were painted on nearby playground equipment.

Some county commissioners condemned the vandalism sooner, within days of its discovery.

The case remains under investigation, Lake Zurich police said.

County Board Chairwoman Sandy Hart said a resolution celebrating diversity first was recommended at a 2017 forum in Lake County, but no action was taken at the time. Hart said she brought the resolution forth now "in light of recent events."

Before the board voted on the resolution, David Goldenberg, the Midwest regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, spoke about the "new escalation of hate" in Lake County and the nation. Reports are up dramatically since 2016, Goldenberg said, and he fears they will continue to rise ahead of the presidential election in November.

"We're at a moment now where every marginalized community in our country is being targeted," said Goldenberg, a Highland Park resident.

The vandalism at Seth Paine Elementary was discovered and reported to police by county board member Jessica Vealitzek, who lives near the school.

Vealitzek celebrated the board's stance against hate in a Facebook post after the vote.

"Peace, love, and understanding, my friends," said Vealitzek, a Hawthorn Woods Democrat. "We can do it."