Protecting places of worship

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Event helps faith communities learn about protection against hate crimes

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)– It’s something you hope never happens when you enter a place of worship, a hate crime. An event in Champaign County is helping places like churches and temples prepare for the worst. “Since the tragedies that occured in Pittsburgh and California, we have really put an emphasis on security,” said Julia Rietz, State’s Attorney and Vice President of the Board of Sinai Temple. “We want to continue practicing our religion in peace and quiet,” said Koeli Mgoel of Champaign.

About 130 people gathered at the Sinai Temple to discuss protecting places of worship. “Making sure our faith organizations are safe and secure and that people can worship in peace and comfort,” said Rietz, “Here in Champaign County of course we have seen some issues lately that have caused concern in other religious organizations at the university level.” People from the Catholic and Christian Church, Jewish and Hindu Temples, to name a few, were all there to have this discussion.

Everything from the law behind hate crimes to security and how houses of worship can protect themselves was talked about. It was sponsored by the Department of Justice. “They go to the very hear of our constitutional rights and the fabric of our community where we really really want to do is prevent any future acts like these from happening,” said Doug Quibey, First Assistant United States Attorney. They are prparing for the worst but hoping they never become the target. “We probably wouldn’t have thought of going to such length if so many incidents of hate crimes if so many violent acts had not taken place,” said Mgoel, “We are trying to protect our building, our worshippers and the community.” The First Assistant United States Attorney says they had a similar event in Decatur about a month ago. They are planning more throughout Central Illinois.

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