ATTORNEY GENERAL RAOUL FILES FIRST-EVER HATE CRIME LAWSUIT AFTER LYNCHED EFFIGY USED FOR ALLEGED INTIMIDATION
Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced the office’s first-ever hate crime lawsuit, which was filed against two white Carroll County residents who allegedly spent months intimidating their neighbor, who is a Black man. Raoul alleges the harassment culminated with the defendants using a noose to lynch an effigy of their neighbor from a tree in their front yard.
Attorney General Raoul filed the lawsuit in the 15th Judicial Circuit, Carroll County against Chad Hampton, 45, of Victoria, Illinois and his mother, Cheryl Hampton, 67, of Streator, Illinois. Raoul’s complaint alleges the two committed a hate crime by intimidation and disorderly conduct, and the lawsuit seeks civil penalties and equitable relief. Separately, 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.
“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.”
According to Raoul’s lawsuit, Chad and Cheryl Hampton allegedly engaged in months of racist behavior aimed at intimidating their neighbor, Gregory Johnson. For instance, the defendants displayed the racial slur, “n-----,” in front of a Confederate flag in a window directly facing the victim’s home. Raoul also alleges Chad Hampton had previously displayed swastikas in direct view of Johnson’s home. Attorney General Raoul alleges the escalating harassment came to a head with the Hamptons using a noose to hang a bound and chained effigy of a Black man made to resemble Johnson from a tree directly in view of Johnson’s 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,” Gregory Johnson said. “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.”
Attorney General Raoul filed the lawsuit following a hate crimes investigation by his office’s Civil Rights Bureau with assistance by the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s office, the city of Savanna, and the Savanna Police Department. The case marks the first time Raoul has utilized expanded authority granted to his office under a 2018 amendment to the Illinois Hate Crimes Act that allows for civil lawsuits against perpetrators of hate crimes.
The public is warned that the complaint contains images that may be disturbing and that the defendants are presumed innocent of any criminal charges until proven guilty in a court of law.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the Civil Rights Hotline at 1-877-581-3692.
The case is being handled by Public Interest Division Chief Christopher G. Wells, Bureau Chief Amy Meek and Assistant Attorney General Alison Hill for Raoul’s Civil Rights Bureau, and Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Jordan for Raoul’s Special Litigation Bureau.