Police investigating after men stopped bus carrying Jewish grade school kids in West Rogers Park
The group allegedly stood in front of the bus in the 2800 block of Jerome Street, forcing it to stop, police said.
A group of men boarded a school bus carrying Jewish grade-school children in West Rogers Park on Wednesday, yelled antisemitic slurs and gave the Hitler salute, according to officials with the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Chicago police would not confirm those details but did say a group stood in front of the bus in the 2800 block of Jerome Street, forcing it to stop, then entered and threatened to harm a 12-year-old boy.
The department did not respond when asked about the slurs and Hitler salute and whether the incident was being investigated as a hate crime, even though the Simon Wiesenthal Center said it has been in contact with police.
The incident was reported to police by the mother of one of the students, a law enforcement source said. The mother told police that one of the men who got on the bus threatened to beat up riders and said “heil Hitler,” the source said.
The bus was carrying Orthodox Jewish boys from an elementary school, according to Alison Pure Slovin, the center’s Midwest director. “It happened so quickly that I don’t think they understood what was happening, just that they were being attacked, that strangers are on your bus screaming at you,” she said.
Slovin noted that the incident “took place on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Nazi pogrom that destroyed almost all synagogues across Germany in 1938. Many members of the Jewish community have family who lived through those horrors.”
Slovin added that the Chicago Commission on Human Relations recently reported that hate crimes targeting Jews were up 75% in the city. “But for our community, it is not just statistics but the fear and anger such incidents generate.”
Slovin said she was grateful no one was physically hurt but said “the psychological fallout is, of course, of concern.”
Across Chicago, hate crimes are at an 11-year high, according to police data. So far in 2022, 25 of the 130 total reported hate crimes were against Jewish people, making anti-Semitic hate crimes second behind anti-Black hate crimes.
The center asked anyone with information to call it at (708) 714-0749 or contact the police.