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Rep. Litesa Wallace Introduces Bill Targeting Hate Crimes

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – FEBRUARY 27: Jewish tombstones lay vandalized at Mount Carmel Cemetery February 27, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Police are investigating 75-100 gravestones that were damaged by vandals yesterday. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

As violence against religious institutions continues to gain attention, a Rockford lawmaker has introduced legislation that would increase the penalty for such crimes.

“I am disturbed by the increased threats and attacks against certain religious communities that have taken place these last few months,” said Rep. Litesa Wallace, D-Rockford. “All Illinois residents, no matter their religion, have a right to worship without fear of violence.”

House Bill 3713 would increase the penalty for damage to a place of worship from a Class 4 felony to a Class 3 felony if the total value of damage is less than $500. For cases of greater damage, the penalty would be raised to a Class 2 felony.

Wallace’s bill comes in the wake of increased national attention towards hate crimes targeting religious communities. On Friday, a man was arrested in Missouri in connection with threats made to at least eight Jewish community centers nationwide and the Anti-Defamation League’s headquarters in New York City.

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