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Security Personnel Response to Bias-Related Crimes and Incidents

In 2017, over a dozen suspected nooses and swastikas have been found in the District of Columbia. Reports of other bias-related crimes and incidents have also increased in the District in the past two years. Reasons include additional training in the identification of bias-related crimes and incidents, public awareness, and actual increases in occurrences. There is a similar trend nationwide. Sometimes these crimes and incidents occur immediately following major crimes or incidents elsewhere, such as the recent terrorist attack in New York City. It is important to stay aware of national and international events, as indicators of bias may lie outside of the immediate crime or incident scene. These targeted crimes and incidents can contribute to a general state of fear and anxiety in those with shared traits.

Security personnel may encounter nooses (real or simulated) or swastikas at their workplaces. These symbols are often used to intimidate or threaten certain individuals or certain classes identified by race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, among other protected categories specified in the D.C. Official Code. It is a crime (§22-3312.02) to display such nooses and swastikas or any marks, symbols, and emblems when they are used to threaten, intimidate, or cause another person or class of persons to feel fear.

Should security personnel find displays of emblems like swastikas and nooses, they should immediately contact the Metropolitan Police Department. By staying alert and reporting these incidents, security personnel may help discourage future bias-related crimes from occurring.


This article is part of the MPD’s “Security Snapshot” series, which is designed for security personnel working in the District of Columbia. While this information may be of interest to the general public, any recommendations or guidance in these articles has been created with a focus on security personnel.