What Is A Hate Crime?
For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.”
Who Is Fighting Against Hate Crimes?
Philadelphia’s Commission on Human Relations tracks reported hate and bias crimes in the city, and the commission says that these crimes rose sharply from November to January. From the time after the election of President Donald Trump to this month, there have been 38 incidents reported to the commission. These bias and hate crimes occurred citywide and already number more than those that happened over the previous 12 months.
Across the country, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a spike in anti-Muslim incidents followed the presidential election. But the center, which advocates for civil rights, says the national number is on the decline, even as the Philadelphia numbers continue to grow. It remains to be seen whether the city will also see declining incidents.
Rue Landau is executive director of the Commission on Human Rights. She draws a direct correlation with Donald Trump’s election victory and the spike in hate crimes. For some people, Trump represents someone on the national level who believes he can do or say anything, even if that results in a hate crime. Incidents reported to the commission included spray painted swastikas, anti-gay and anti-Semitic speech. Muslims are a particularly popular target, and Landau relates one incident where someone pulled off a woman’s hijab.
The commission works with local communities to try to resolve hate crimes and stimulate understanding.
What Can the Be Done to Prevent These Types Of Crimes?
The Southern Poverty Law Center has put together a pamphlet on how to deal with hate crimes. Here are a few highlights.
- ACT. Do something. In the face of hatred, apathy will be interpreted as acceptance by the perpetrators.
- UNITE. Call a friend or co-worker. Organize allies from churches, schools, clubs and other civic groups. Create a diverse coalition.
- SPEAK UP. Hate must be exposed and denounced. Help news organizations achieve balance and depth.
- LOBBY LEADERS. Elected officials and other community leaders can be important allies in the fight against hate. But some must overcome reluctance before they’re able to take a stand.
- TEACH TOLERANCE. Bias is learned early, usually at home. Schools can offer lessons of tolerance and acceptance.
- DIG DEEPER. Look inside yourself for prejudices and stereotypes. Build your own cultural competency.
Finding Justice After An Assault
Prevention is the best cure for hate crimes. However, what do you do after you have been the victim of a hate crime? You can seek legal help in the form of a civil suit. Litigation in a civil suit can be successful even if a criminal lawsuit against the perpetrator does not result in a guilty verdict.
If you have been the victim of a hate crime, do no keep it a secret. A crime such as this, much like any crime needs to be dealt with in order to get justice. Pursuing justice is a legal right because no one deserves to be caused harm based on what they believe, their gender, ethnicity or any other reason that others them. You may have lost your health, well-being, and feelings of safety and security as a result of the attack.
Whether you have been the victim of a hate crime that led to a shooting, stabbing or non-violent robbery, it is going to take time and resources to heal. It is important to seek legal counsel so that you can get the justice you deserve for such an unlawful act.