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Knox County man accused in Attorney General’s first hate crime lawsuit under expanded authority

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The complaint alleges Cheryl Hampton, now 67, and her son, Chad Hampton, now 45, lynched an effigy of their Black neighbor to intimidate him in 2020.

One of two people accused of intimidating a Black neighbor in northwest Illinois now lives in Knox County.

The two are named in Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s first-ever hate crime lawsuit using expanded authority granted four years ago.

A 2018 amendment to the Illinois Hate Crime Statute allows the attorney general to file civil lawsuits on behalf of the people of Illinois for hate crime offenses, independent of other criminal prosecution.

The complaint alleges Cheryl Hampton, now 67, and her son, Chad Hampton, now 45, lynched an effigy of their Black neighbor to intimidate him.

They hung the effigy from a tree a few feet from the neighbor’s property with a noose made of rope, and they bound the effigy’s hands and torsos with chains.

They also displayed a racial slur and a Confederate flag in a window facing their neighbor’s home.

Chad Hampton also spray-painted swastikas on a garage facing the neighbor’s property and doused his yard with weed killer.

According to the complaint, the hate crimes occurred in 2020 in the city of Savanna in Carroll County.

Raoul’s lawsuit was filed there in the 15th Judicial Circuit.

But Cheryl Hampton now lives in Streator, and Chad Hampton is now a resident of Victoria, a village of around 300 residents in northern Knox County.

Raoul alleges the Hamptons’ hate crimes were an attempt to intimidate their neighbor into silence after he repeatedly contacted Savanna police about their aggressive behavior toward him.

“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 release. “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 lawsuit seeks civil penalties and equitable relief.

The Carroll County State’s Attorney has also charged Chad Hampton with criminal destruction of property and Cheryl Hampton with criminal harassment of a witness.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from  readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.