Woman Charged With Hate Crime Gets Probation After Harassing Black Cyclists

An Illinois white woman who faced hate crime charges after she harassed a group of Black cyclists in 2020 has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and gotten off on probation, the Associated Press reports.

On Wednesday (Oct.19), Irene Donoshaytis had her felony hate crime charge dropped under a plea agreement where she instead pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery, which came with a one-year probation sentence. Donoshaytis was also ordered to attend an anti-racism class, per her plea deal.

In August 2020, Donoshaytis, then 65, engaged in a confrontation with Otis Campbell and two other Black men who were cycling near a pier along Lake Michigan in Winnetka, police said.

Campbell captured the confrontation in a video that was widely shared on social media. The video shows the white woman complaining to a Winnetka Park District employee that the three Black men weren’t allowed in a certain area without a pass. The employee responded that the men didn’t need a pass because they were on public property, per the video.

Donoshaytis disagreed. She asked Campbell, “Are you crazy? What, you want to kill me? No? It feels like it.”

“Why would I want to kill you? Is it because I’m Black?” Campbell said in response.

“Yes,” Donoshaytis replied, nodding her head.

According to Campbell, Donoshaytis also told the group, “This is America. This is America. You can’t do this. I’m from Winnetka. You need to go back where you’re from.”

Donoshaytis’ attorney, Jeffrey Fagan, said in 2020 that his client was a refugee from the Soviet Union who fled from persecution.

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