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Hate Crimes FAQs

What Is a Hate Crime?

A hate crime is a crime that is committed against a person because of prejudice or bias. Victims of hate crimes are singled out simply because of their perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, family responsibility, homelessness, physical handicap, matriculation, or political affiliation.

Examples of hate crimes include:

  • Physical attack
  • Destruction of property
  • Cross burnings
  • Arson
  • Vandalism
  • Telephone harassment
  • Painting swastikas and other hate symbols
  • Use of racial slurs
  • Cemetery desecration
  • Verbal abuse
  • Firebombing of residences, businesses, and chu

Hate Crimes Are Against the Law

In 1989, the District of Columbia enacted a law to address the problem of hate crimes committed in DC. The law, entitled "The Bias-Related Crime Act of 1989" (DC Code §§ 22-4001 to 22-4004), provides for increased penalties whenever a crime is motivated by bias or hate.

The law also mandates that police in the District of Columbia collect data on bias-related acts and that the Office of the Mayor of the District of Columbia publish an annual report regarding the number and type of bias-related acts reported in the District.

Federal law (The Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990) also requires the Metropolitan Police Department to report data on hate crimes to federal authorities annually.

Why Hate Crimes Should Be Reported

A person who commits a hate crime cannot be brought to justice and held accountable for his or her acts if the crime is not reported. In addition, collecting accurate data on the number of hate crimes is one of the only ways in which police, prosecutors, elected officials, and community organizations can determine the extent of the problem of hate crimes in the District of Columbia.

Why Hate Crimes Must Be Stopped

Unlike other crimes that target individuals, bias-related acts have a tremendous effect on an entire community. When one person is targeted because of his or her race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, or other characteristic, others in the community who were not the direct targets of the hate crime may also feel at risk. Tensions between different communities can also arise as a result of a hate crime.

How Do I Reduce the Potential for Hate Crime?

Hate crimes are illegal, unacceptable, and hurt all in the community. No one should threaten or assault you based upon bias. Follow these Sexual-Orientation Hate Crime Prevention tips from the National Crime Prevention Council.

  • Report Hate Crimes immediately to the police.
  • Work with your local police to educate others about preventing hate crimes in your community.
  • Don’t leave an establishment with a stranger. Arrange a future date in a public place with friends.
  • Never agree to meet someone, in-person, you just met online.
  • Avoid using alcohol or drugs that can impair your judgment.
  • Trust your instincts. Remove yourself from unsafe situations.
  • Avoid walking alone and late at night. Be aware of your surroundings when leaving a bar, meeting, or organization routinely targeted by hate groups. 

How Do I Report Hate Crimes?

If you have been the victim of a hate crime, know of, or have witnessed a hate crime, you can report this in several ways

  • Call or visit your local Metropolitan Police Department district station.
  • Call the Hate Crimes Hotline at (202) 727-0500, which has been established by the Metropolitan Police Department to assist victims of hate crimes. Callers can report incidents without having to give their names, addresses, or other personal information.
  • Mail a written statement with the complaint that contains information to support a claim that the designated act constitutes a bias-related crime. Statements should be mailed to:

Hate Crimes Coordinator

Special Liaison Division
Patrol Services and School Security Bureau
Metropolitan Police Department
801 Shepherd Street, NW Room 202-C

Washington, DC 20011

Report hate crimes to the community organizations listed below.

About the DC Bias Crimes Task Force

The DC Bias Crimes Task Force was founded in 1996 to increase community awareness of the problem of hate crimes. The goal of the Task Force is to provide assistance to the victims of hate crimes, bring those responsible for bias-related crimes to justice, and strengthen the partnership between law enforcement, prosecutors, and community groups in preventing and responding to hate crimes.

Assistance for Victims of Hate Crimes 

Victims of hate crimes can suffer serious and long-lasting traumatic stress that can seriously alter their lives. The Metropolitan Police Department wants to assist by putting you in touch with services in the District of Columbia that are available to help. Listed below are the names and telephone numbers of organizations that offer counseling, referrals, and other assistance

Organization Website phone
Anti-Defamation League of B'Nai B'Rith www.adl.org (202) 452-8310
Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) www.napaba.org (202) 347-5634
Crime Victim Compensation Program CVCP (202) 879-4216
DC Office on Latino Affairs (8 am - 5 pm) ola.dc.gov (202) 671-2825
Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) www.glovdc.org  
MPDC Asian Liaison Unit  ALU (202) 724-8009
MPDC Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit GLLU (202) 727-5427
MPDC Hate Crimes Hotline   (202) 727-0500
National Center for Victims of Crime www.ncvc.org (800) 394-2255
National Organization for Victim Assistance www.try-nova.org 800) 879-6682
Organization of Chinese Americans, National Office www.ocanatl.org (202) 223-5500