When Hate Hits You
Importance of Reporting Hate Crimes
Hate crimes are motivated by prejudice and bigotry. These crimes pose a unique danger to society because, while they often result in an attack on an individual, they can affect the fundamental rights and emotional well-being of entire communities by making them feel vulnerable and isolated. Hate crimes cause tensions, which may erupt into violence between members of different ethnic, religious or racial groups.
Reporting Hate Crimes:
- Underlines the need for stronger hate crime laws and penalties.
- Informs law enforcement agencies and communities about the scope of the problem, thereby enabling them to deal with the problem more effectively.
- Reinforces the notion that hate crimes are not to be dismissed as "pranks."
Failing to Report Hate Crimes:
- Makes it appear as if the problem does not exist.
- Increases attackers' confidence that they can get away with their crimes and continue to commit them.
- Even though many police departments are set up to investigate hate crimes, incidents of hate crime reporting involving Asian Pacific American victims is seriously underreported to the police. Reasons for this include:
- Immigrant victims may face language and cultural barriers to filing police reports.
- Immigrant victims are often unfamiliar with American law and fearful of law enforcement.
- Some victims are afraid that by reporting hate-related attacks, it will draw attention to them and make them vulnerable to further attacks.
- Some victims believe that their complaints will not be taken seriously by the police, or worse, that the police will persecute them for reporting incidents.
Responding to Hate Crimes
Steps to take if you are the victim of a hate crime, or if you witness a hate crime:
- Call the police immediately and be sure a report is taken.
- If there are injuries, call the paramedics immediately.
- Leave all evidence in place. Do not touch or remove anything.
If possible, document the incident by photographing evidence and writing down the facts. Write down who said what and obtain names of any witnesses.
Inform the police that you were a victim of a hate crime.
If the police hesitate to report a hate crime, insist on it. Check for the hate crime designation on the police report.
Obtain a copy of the police report for your records.
Alert organizations such as the JACL, organizations that deal with hate crimes, and local human relations commissions.
JACL Response Guidelines
JACL responds to incidents of defamation and hate directed at Asian Americans through direct intervention or by providing assistance to JACL chapters to confront incidents in their local areas.
If you are the victim of or witness to a hate crime or defamation, alert your nearest JACL regional office:
Midwest Office (Chicago)
Northern California - Western Nevada - Pacific Office (San Francisco)
Pacific Northwest Office (Seattle)
Pacific Southwest Office (Los Angeles)
Washington, D. C. Office
National Headquarters (San Francisco)