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SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER FORUM ON HATE SPEECH 7 p.m. Aug. 29, 2017 Bob Michel Student Center Bradley University, Peoria, IL

The Southern Poverty Law Center documented more than 1,000 hate incidents and hate crimes during 10 days in early November following the presidential election. The hate continues and, in fact, seems to be escalating worldwide.

To examine and promote understanding of this climate, Community Word and Bradley University’s Department of Sociology & Social Work, African American Studies Committee and Intellectual & Cultural Activities Committee are co-sponsoring a free public forum with Lecia Brooks, outreach director at Southern Poverty Law Center, to discuss the rise in hate groups and hate crime. Lecia Brooks will discuss what people can do to combat hate.

The event takes place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 29 at the Bob Michel Student Center at Bradley University, Peoria, IL.

Local panelists will include Rev. Marvin Hightower, Peoria Chapter NAACP;  Imam Kamil Mufti, Islamic Foundation of Peoria; Rebecca Carlson, Jewish Federation of Peoria; and Sonny Garcia, Illinois People’s Action.  It will be moderated by Garry Moore.

The swastika has reappeared in ways we have not seen before,” Brooks said, noting that teachers in kindergarten through grade 12 have reported they have never seen such a sharp rise in expressions and acts of hate. Children are repeating rhetoric from the campaign and using it as racial slurs. Southern Poverty Law Center has tallied hate crimes and found most were committed against immigrants, followed by Black, Muslim and LGBT groups. The swastika was the next leading hate category and is used as an expression of anti-Semitism and as a symbol of white supremacy.

Southern Poverty Law Center has identified 917 hate groups in the United States. There are groups in Bloomington, Canton, Springfield, Rockford and outside of Peoria.

SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER is a nonprofit founded in 1971 to fulfill the promises of the civil rights movement and apply America’s founding democratic principles to all people. Priorities include: combating hate, teaching tolerance, protecting the rights of children; seeking justice, immigrant justice, LGBT rights and criminal justice reform.

Lecia Brooks leads the Southern Poverty Law Center’s outreach efforts on key initiatives and social justice issues. As outreach director, she frequently gives presentations around the country to promote tolerance and diversity. She also serves as director of the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery, Ala., an interpretive center designed to provide visitors to the Civil Rights Memorial with a deeper understanding of the civil rights movement. She joined the SPLC staff in 2004 as director of Mix It Up at Lunch Day, a Teaching Tolerance program designed to help break down racial, cultural and social barriers in schools. Previously, she worked for 12 years in a number of capacities for the National Conference for Community and Justice in its Los Angeles office. She is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University.