The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security takes hate crimes seriously. Massachusetts passed the Hate Crimes Reporting Act in 1991, and charged the Secretary of Public Safety with gathering hate crime reports annually from all state, local and campus police departments and other law-enforcement agencies. ( M.L.G. c. 22c § 32). From this page, you will be able to learn the legal definition of a hate crime, access the annual hate crime reports, and get information about what you can do if you believe that you are a victim of a hate crime.
- What is a hate crime?
According to the Massachusetts Hate Crimes Reporting Act, a hate crime is any criminal act coupled with behavior that shows the crime was motivated by bigotry or bias. Specifically, a crime is classified as a hate crime when the criminal act is motivated by racial, religious, ethnic, handicap, gender, or sexual orientation prejudice. See Mass. Gen. Laws c.22C, § 32. ( M.L.G. c. 22c § 32). Specifically, the Hate Crimes Reporting Act covers these forms of bias:
Sexual Orientation Bias:
Anti-Other Sexual Orientation
Anti-Persons with AIDS
Of these forms of bias, Anti-Transgender Bias is most recently recognized. It is defined as hatred, hostility, or prejudice towards a person who, in dress, speech, and general appearance, visibly:
(a) "identifies" with the gender opposite to his or her biological or birth gender; or
(b) does not conform to conventional gender role expectations for his or her biological or birth gender. Bias is usually attributed to the circumstance of traditional gender role conventions being openly violated. This bias constitutes gender bias because a "transgender person" is regarded differently and less favorably than would a person of the opposite biological sex, for engaging in similar conduct. See 501 Code Mass. Regs. § 4.02. (501 C.M.R 4.02)
Massachusetts law recognized that hate crimes can occur in many settings and varieties. Hate crimes can take place in public, for example at a public school or on a highway, or in a private place, like a home or at a bank. Any criminal act against a place of worship is considered a hate crime. (M.G.L. c.266, § 127A; 501 C.M.R. 4.02). It is also considered a hate crime if a place that is open to the public denies access to someone based on a bias covered by the Act. (M.G.L. c. 272, §92A; 501 C.M.R. 4.02). Even if the perpetrator is wrong about the victim's association with the perceived group, the criminal offense is still a hate crime. If the perpetrator had several motivations, including a hatred or bias against a particular group, it is still possible to classify the act as a hate crime. However, when the hateful act is not on its own a crime, then there is no hate crime. Instead, these are known as "hate incidents."
- What is the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security's role?
The Hate Crimes Reporting Act requires that the number of hate crimes that occur in the Commonwealth be submitted to the Secretary of Public Safety annually, even if that number is zero. (M.G.L. c. 22C, § 32). The State Police Crime Reporting Unit combines the efforts of the Department of State Police and the Criminal History Systems Board to collect this data from state and local police departments, the Transit Police, and campus police agencies. The Crime Reporting Unit analyzes the data and submits a report to the Secretary. These reports include statistics about hate crimes by category of bias, victim and offender profiles, and characteristics of incidents. The reports do not include victim or perpetrator names. You can view the reports from the last few years here:
- What should you do if you believe you were a victim of a hate crime?
- Get medical help if needed. Some victims may need support and reassurance. Victims may choose to speak with a victim advocate , a community leader, or a counselor.
- Contact your local police department and file a report. 198 police departments in Massachusetts have a specially trained Civil Rights Officer to handle hate crime concerns. To find your town's Civil Rights Officer, click here . If your town isn't on this list yet, you can still contact your local police department or campus police and ask to file a report with the Shift Supervisor.
- You may be able to get a civil rights injunction with the help of the Attorney General's Office. The Massachusetts Civil Rights Act (MCRA) authorizes the Attorney General to pursue legal against those that deprive others of their civil rights. (M.G.L. c. 12, s. 11H-11J) MCRA protects all residents and visitors to Massachusetts against threats and interference with their civil rights. For example, if someone is preventing you from using a public park because of your race, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability, the Attorney General's Office may be able to help.
- Massachusetts Government Sites:
- Federal Government Sites: