Skokie man accused of hate crimes after Israel solidarity rally to plead not guilty

Richard Requena/Chicago Tribune/TNS

A Skokie man who attended a Solidarity with Israel rally in Skokie on Oct. 22 is facing four counts of felony charges for allegedly discharging pepper spray at pro-Palestinian counter-protestors. His lawyer said his client will plead not guilty to the charges.

Zevulen Ebert, 33, of the 5000 block of Oakton Street, Skokie, was back in Cook County court on Nov. 16 to schedule his arraignment, where he will enter a guilty or not guilty plea. A grand jury voted to formally indict Ebert on two felony charges of aggravated battery and two charges of hate crimes.

Ebert’s lawyer, Hal Garfinkel, said that prosecutors will not be able to prove Ebert had any criminal intent for the alleged crime.

At a pretrial hearing on Oct. 25, Garfinkel said the charges were sought out by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office to satisfy political pressures arising from the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Skokie police arrested Ebert on Oct. 22 near the Ateres Ayala kosher event hall on Touhy Avenue, where the Midwest Regional Office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center was holding a solidarity with Israel event.

Ebert was released from custody three days later at his first pre-trial in late October and was not given a requirement for electronic surveillance.

A document from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said Ebert was waving an Israeli flag in front of pro-Palestinian supporters when a person tried to come up behind Ebert and take his flag.

A verbal exchange followed and Ebert discharged pepper spray, which the document says injured multiple people and more than one Chicago police officer. Ebert accused Palestinians of war crimes and gave “obscene middle finger gestures,” according to the court document.

Ebert will be back in court for his arraignment to enter his plea on Nov. 27. An arrest does not constitute a finding of guilt.