CHICAGO (CBS) — A mother and son in western Illinois are the first to be sued by the state for a hate crime under a 2018 expansion of the state’s hate crime laws.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office filed the lawsuit against Chad and Cheryl Hampton, who are both white. They’re accused of harassing their Black neighbor, Gregory Johnson, in Savanna, Illinois, for several months.
“Our complaint alleges the defendants intentionally used the shameful history of lynching and racism in America to terrorize and instill fear in their next-door neighbor simply because he is Black. No one should be subjected to this kind of hate,” Raoul said in a statement.
The suit claims the Hamptons displayed the racial slur n***** in front of a Confederate flag in a window facing the victim’s home, displayed swastikas in direct view of the victim’s home, and even used a noose to hang an effigy of a Black man made to resemble the victim from a tree in front of his home.
“I looked out of my new home at a Black-faced mannequin shackled and lynched on a tree branch, the N-word scrawled upon a window, and swastikas,” Johnson said in a statement provided by Raoul’s office. “Our American flag was replaced with their Confederate flag. Have we not come any farther than this? This lawsuit is about tearing off the shackles that still restrain us to this day. It’s about never giving up on the mission of our United States Constitution. We, as a nation, are better than this.”
The lawsuit, filed in Carroll County, seeks more than $25,000 in damages against both Chad and Cheryl Hampton.
Separately, Carroll County prosecutors have charged Chad Hampton with criminal destruction of property, and Cheryl Hampton with criminal harassment of a witness.