Governor's hate crime panel under attack

Feb. 24, 2006 at 1:42 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Jewish groups in Illinois claim an appointee on Gov. Rod Blagojevich's anti-hate crime panel has close ties to Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam.

The Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes was set up to fight discrimination and hate crimes but the governor is facing questions about the appointment to the panel of Claudette Marie Johnson, who is alleged to be the minister of protocol in Farrakhan's group, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

"This is a body aimed at eradicating hate. In Mr. Farrakhan's words over the years, he's actually espoused hate," said Lonnie Nasatir, a commission member and a director of the Anti-Defamation League, the Sun-Times reported. The report said the issue came up after Johnson extended an invitation to commission members to attend a speech by Farrakhan.

A Jewish state lawmaker said the governor should remove Johnson from the panel. A spokeswoman for the governor said Blagojevich has no plans to remove her as only those who share the commission's goals were appointed.

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