The horror at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh cuts to the heart of our own community. This is the latest reminder of how easily anti-Semitism can become violence and murder.
I join the chorus of people offering thoughts and prayers for the victims and the communities suffering in Pittsburg and around the globe. I will be at a synagogue in Northbrook tonight to share space, reflect, and pray with members of our local Jewish community.
However, we must do more than pray. We as a society must demonstrate there is no room for anti-Semitism or for violence in our community.
As State Senator, one of my first pieces of legislation will be the Anti-Semitism Hate Crimes Act. This legislation will adopt the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism to help state and local law enforcement identify when a criminal act is motivated by anti-Semitism. For example, it would help prosecutors pursue state hate crime penalties against someone who paints a swastika on the front door of a Jewish fraternity (an addition of hate crime to the current crimes of graffiti and trespassing).
I am a strong supporter of the 1st Amendment right to free speech. This law would not outlaw Constitutionally protected speech that is unconnected to criminal behavior.
We must also work to keep extremely dangerous weapons out of the hands of people who would use them to kill. As someone recognized by Mom’s Demand Action as a Gun Sense Candidate, I will work to bring our community and state legislature together to help reduce gun violence.
As we mourn this senseless loss of life and innocence, let’s be vigilant for threats of hate and violence. Let's also work together to build a society that includes more love, caring and kindness. These are imperfect, but powerful, tools to combat hate.