The lawsuit was filed May 31 by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul against two Carroll County residents.
CARROLL COUNTY, ILLINOIS, Ill. — Editor’s Note: What you see and read in the story may be disturbing, viewer discretion is advised.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed the office’s first-ever hate crime lawsuit on May 31 against two Carroll County residents.
The lawsuit, filled in the 15th Judicial Court, is against two white Carroll County residents who allegedly spent months intimidating their neighbor, who is a Black man. The complaint alleges the two committed a hate crime by intimidation and disorderly conduct, and the lawsuit seeks civil penalties and equitable relief.
The full lawsuit can be found here.
According to the lawsuit, Chad Hampton, 45, of Victoria, Illinois, and his mother, Cheryl Hampton, 67, of Streator, Illinois, allegedly engaged in months of racist behavior aimed at intimidating their neighbor, Gregory Johnson.
The defendants displayed the N-word in front of a Confederate flag in a window facing Johnson’s home, and Chad Hampton had allegedly previously displayed swastikas in direct view of Johnson’s home. Raoul said the harassment came to a head when the Hamptons used a noose to hang a bound and chained effigy of a Black man-made to resemble Johnson from a tree in direct view 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 press release Wednesday. “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 Carroll County State’s Attorney’s office has charged Chad Hampton with criminal destruction of property and Cheryl Hampton with criminal harassment of a witness.
Raoul filed the lawsuit following a hate crimes investigation by his office’s Civil Rights Bureau with assistance from the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s office, the City of Savanna and the Savanna Police Department.
A 2018 amendment to the Illinois Hate Crimes Act allows for civil lawsuits to be filed against perpetrators of hate crimes. This is the first time Raoul has filed such a lawsuit.
“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. “I am committed to continuing to partner with law enforcement agencies across Illinois to prosecute hate crimes and send a message that hate and bigotry of any kind are not welcome and will not be tolerated.”
The Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau enforces state and federal civil rights laws prohibiting hate crimes and discrimination in Illinois. Members of the public are encouraged to report discrimination or hate crimes by emailing [email protected] or by calling the Civil Rights Hotline at 1-877-581-3692.