Hate Crime Case Ends With Probation, Essay
An Alsip man was sentenced today to probation and ordered to write an essay about the lynching of blacks in America after he pleaded guilty to an attack two years ago in which he and two friends put a noose around the neck of an African-American teenager and threatened to kill him.
Matthew Herrmann, who turns 20 on Thursday, is white and originally was charged as an adult with felony counts of committing a hate crime, unlawful restraint and battery.
But in an unusual deal with Cook County prosecutors, Herrmann pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanor count of battery and agreed to participate in a “peacemaking circle” with the victim, family, clergy and school counselors. The approach - typically used only in juvenile cases - is designed to provide healing for the victim as well as resolve the underlying issues that caused the act, according to prosecutors.
Criminal Court Judge James Linn agreed today to go along with the deal and sentenced Herrmann to 2 years of probation for the misdemeanor conviction. Herrmann must also participate in a follow-up peacemaking circle with the victim and write the essay on lynching.