We hear a lot about hate crimes in the news these days,
but do you know what offenses can be considered hate crimes? More importantly, do you know what to do if you’re the victim of one or witness a hate crime taking place?
The History of Hate Crime Laws
The first federal hate crimes statute was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968. This law was designed to protect people against harm based on race, color, religion, national origin or being a public servant. The laws have been updated over the years to include protections for familial status, religious property, gender, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation.
Hate Crime Data
Participating law enforcement agencies reported more than 6,000 hate crime incidents to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Hate Crime Statistics Program in 2016. Nearly 60 percent of those incidents were motivated by race/ethnicity/ancestry bias, about 20 percent were motivated by religious bias, and approximately 17 percent resulted from sexual-orientation bias.
What Can You Do?
If you know someone who is the victim of a hate crime, you can help them by calmly reinforcing that the incident was not their fault and listening to them without judgment. Offer to go with them to report the incident to authorities or seek medical attention or counseling if they choose to do so.
If you witness a hate crime, it can be difficult to know how to react in the moment. One anti-harassment group recommends the five D’s of bystander intervention: direct, distract, delegate, delay and document. Remember to keep your own safety in mind and consider options that won’t put you or anyone else in harm’s way.
As always, please reach out if you have any questions.
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