The Alliance has compiled a number of resources available for survivors, their friends and families, and professionals assisting survivors in New York City.
Factsheets: Hate Crimes
A hate crime is the victimization of an individual based upon their race, religion, national origin, ethnic identification, gender or sexual orientation.
These crimes may include acts including physical assaults, assaults with weapons, harassment, vandalism, robbery, rape, verbal harassment, attacks on homes or places of worship, various forms of vandalism, and murder. It occurs everywhere: in schools, the workplace, public places and in the home. Those who commit these acts come from all social/economic backgrounds and represent different age groups (National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Safety and Fitness Exchange, Lance Bradley and Kevin Berrill, 1986.)
According to Finn and McNeil (1987, p. 1) “ . . . These types of offenses are far more serious than comparable crimes that do not involve prejudice because they are intended to intimidate an entire group . . . furthermore, our country is founded on principles of equality, freedom of association, and individual liberty; as such, bias crime tears at the very fabric of our society.”
Such acts of violence are widespread in American society and part of the daily experience of many members of minority groups (National Institute Against Prejudice and Violence, 1986).
Social science attempts to explain the reasons for these crimes in a substantial body of literature, which has been expanding over the last several years. Economic competition by minorities is proposed by Finn and McNeil as an aggravating factor in some attacks, which may be a partial explanation of the vandalism and arson directed toward Korean-owned businesses during the 1992 post-Rodney King verdict rioting in Los Angeles. There were numerous examples of incidents of anti-Arab behavior during the Persian Gulf war (Kleinfield, 1992). Howard J. Ehrlich further expounds A...that three basic threats evoke a violent response: violations of territory or property, violations of the sacred, and violations of status...the victim=s behavior or potential behavior is defined by the actor as leaving no choice but to respond with violence” (Herek, Berrill, 1992, p.108-109).
Current reactionism to minorities is described by Dr. Brian Ogawa in his Color of Justice: Culturally Sensitive Treatment of Minority Crime Victims (1990, p. 140). “White supremacy groups are attempting to forcibly move our nation toward a form of apartheid whereby white males will rule no matter how racially diverse we become. In the paranoia that they are an endangered species, they seek to permanently establish racial separatism by any means necessary.”
This unsettling commentary on the degree to which our society is biased is echoed by Lois Copeland and Leslie Wolfe in The Center for Women Policy Studies report entitled Violence Against Women as Bias Motivated Hate Crime: Defining the Issues (1991, p. 3).
The victims may “perceive their offenders as representative of the dominant culture in society and an agent of that culture’s stereotyping of the victim’s culture” (Serving Victims of Bias Crimes, 1992). “Regardless of the attacker’s motives, victims almost always are chosen for what they are rather than who they are. This is why anti-gay hate crimes are a form of terrorism. The attack is against the community as a whole” (Herek, 1991).
Hate crime may have particularly damaging effects on its victims, their families and the communities of which they are a part. A sense of anger is one of the common responses to being the victim of a hate crime, but so is a deep sense of personal hurt and betrayal. Victims experience feelings of powerlessness, isolation, sadness and suspicion. Fear is another pervasive victim response. Victims fear for their own safety and for their family’s safety. Most report changes in their lifestyle such as where they walk, how they answer the phone, reactions to strangers, suspicion of co-workers, and other such changes. Fear can take on paranoid qualities and drastically disrupt the lives of some victims. One of the most common reactions is a sense of injustice, and a corresponding loss of faith in law enforcement and the whole criminal justice system, which is often felt to be insensitive and disinterested.
As pointed out by the results of studies conducted by the National Institute Against Prejudice and Violence (now The Prejudice Institute at Towson State University):
The feelings of vulnerability due to criminal reactions by others can lead to stress and self-dehumanization. The victim may view himself or herself as perpetually vulnerable or that his or her existence is the cause of this violence is unhealthy and maladaptive. It is important that victims not fall into the common trap of self-blame and recognize that their orientation did not lead to the attack, but rather consider “that this was not a random attack, but a premeditated, purposeful act, aimed at...their community” (Serving Victims of Bias Crimes, 1992).
Particular note should be taken of how important it has been to victims [of hate crimes] whether others in the community seemed to care about what had happened to them. “No one seemed to care” is reported by numerous persons of varied ethnic backgrounds, always with a deep sense of disappointment. When others seemed not to care, the effects on victims were intensified. Such a perceived lack of concern, whether from neighbors, strangers, officials, or whomever, added to a sense of isolation. Somehow, when others do care, the trauma is softened. When others seemed not to care, victims experienced the incidents as portentous, calling into question their entire outlook on the world.
Forty-six states and the District of Columbia have enacted statues known commonly as “hate crime” laws. The past several years have also witnessed an increase in similar local municipal ordinances and college campus speech codes. In a unanimous decision in R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 112 S. Ct. 2538 (1992), the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a local hate crimes ordinance in St. Paul, Minnesota. The law was challenged originally in local court on the ground that it was substantially over-broad and impermissibly content-based and, therefore, invalid under the First Amendment. Although it had been upheld by the Minnesota Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court opinion noted that the government couldn’t punish some words based upon their content, while allowing other words to go unpunished.
Constitutional scholars have expressed concerns about the possible far-reaching implications of the decision. Some analysts predict the future of such laws will be determined by litigation, making their status uncertain following the Supreme Court ruling.
The victim has the right to not report an incident if he or she so chooses. If the attack requires hospitalization, medical service providers may be required to report the incident to the police. If so, the victim may identify the attack as hate-related or not. There are several arguments for reporting the incident as hate-related. Without documentation as to the prevalence hate crimes, there is less justification for legislation to be enacted which will hopefully decrease the frequency of these crimes. Just as legislation requires justification to be enacted, so do programs set up in response to specific problems. Without input from victims, community patrols or other programs may be suspended. On an interpersonal level, increased exposure to diverse people may work toward dispelling negative stereotypes, and thus reduce a perceived threat to would-be offenders.
Bradley, L. & Berrill, D. (1986). Dealing with Violence: A Guide for Gay and Lesbian People. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Safety and Fitness Exchange: Washington, D.C.
Copeland, L. & Wolfe, L. (1991). Violence Against Women as Bias Motivated Hate Crime: Defining the Issues. Washington, DC: Center for Women Policy Studies.
Ehrlich, H. (1992). “The Ecology of Anti-Gay Violence”. In Gregory Herek and Kevin Berrill (eds.), Hate Crimes: Confronting Violence Against Lesbians and Gay Men. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2000). Crime in the United States, 1999. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.
Finn, P. & McNeil, T. (1987). The Response of the Criminal Justice System to Bias Crime: An Exploratory Review. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice.
Herek, G. M. & Berrill, K. T. (1992). Hate Crimes: Confronting Violence Against Lesbians and Gay Men. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
Kleinfield, N.R. (1992, January 27). A Hatred Up Close: The Tension in New York. New York Times, p.A-1.
Moore, K. (2001). Anti-lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual Violence in 2000. New York: National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.
National Institute Against Prejudice and Violence. (1986). The Ethnoviolence Project Pilot Study, Institute Report No. 1. Baltimore, MD.
Ogawa, B. (1990). Color of Justice: Culturally Sensitive Treatment of Minority Crime Victims. Sacramento, CA: Office of the Governor, State of California.
Potok, M. (2001, Spring). Active hate groups: In the United States in the year 2000. Intelligence Report, 101, 36-39.
Potok, M. (2001, Spring). Active hate groups: In the United States in the year 2000. Intelligence Report, 101, 40-43.
Strom, K. (2001). Hate Crimes Reproted in NIBRS, 1997-1999. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.
Young, M.A. (1992). “Serving Victims of Bias Crimes.” The Road to Victim Justice: Mapping Strategies for Service, A Series of Regional Training Conferences. National Organization for Victim Assistance and National Victim Center.
Anti-Defamation League. (1991). The KKK Today: A 1991 Status Report. New York, NY.
Anti-Defamation League. (1987). Shaved for Battle: Skinheads Target America’s Youth. New York, NY.
Center for Democratic Renewal. (1992). When Hate Groups Come to Town: A Handbook of Effective Community Responses. Atlanta, GA.
Educational Development Center. (1994). National Bias Crimes Training for Law Enforcement and Victim Assistance Professionals. Newton, MA.
Flitcraft, A. (1992). “Violence, Values, and Gender.” The Journal of the American Medical Association, 267(23):3195.
Gilbert, M. (1992, March 22). “Beyond Villains & Buffoons; Gay and Lesbian Activists Want Hollywood to Broaden Its Portrayal of Them on Film.” The Boston Globe, pp. B25.
Hamm, M. (1993). American Skinheads: The Criminology and Control of Hate Crime. Westport: Praeger Publishers London.
Hightower, S. (1992, March 22). Murder Leads to Protection for Gays; Hate Crime: Patrol Officers Now Escort Bar Patrons to their Cars, Police are Given Credit for a Safer Neighborhood. Los Angeles Times, p.21.
Klugman, J. (1992, Summer). Negotiating Agreements and Resolving Disputes Across Cultures. Mediation Quarterly, 9(4).
Levin, B. (1993, Winter). “Bias Crimes: A Theoretical & Practical Overview.” Stanford Law & Policy Review, Vol. 4.
Levin, J. & McDevitt, J. (1993). Hate Crimes: The Rising Tide of Bigotry and Bloodshed. New York: Plenum Press.
O’Malley, J. (1994). A Prosecutor’s Guide to Hate Crime. Chicago, IL: Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
National Center for Victims of Crime. (1996). “Hate Crimes Legislation.” INFOLINK Bulletin.
New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project. (1995). “Anti-Lesbian/Gay Violence Rises in New York City and Around Country in 1994.” Stop the Violence, 6(1):1, 12-13.
Southern Poverty Law Center. (1995). “Aryan Nations Stages Alarming Comeback in 1994.” Klanwatch Intelligence Report, issue no. 77.
Southern Poverty Law Center Klanwatch. (1994). Law Enforcement Strategy: Effective Responses to Hate Groups. Montgomery, AL.
Southern Poverty Law Center Klanwatch. (1994). Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide to Hate Crime and Hate Groups. Montgomery, AL.
Suall, I. & Halpern, T. (1993). Young Nazi Killers: The Rising Skinhead Danger. New York: Anti-Defamation League.
United States Commission on Civil Rights. (1992). Civil Rights Issues Facing Asian Americans in the 1990s. Washington, DC.
United States Conference of Mayors and the Anti-Defamation League. (1992, June). Addressing Racial and Ethnic Tensions: Combating Hate Crimes in America’s Cities. New York, NY.
For additional information and referrals to organizations that provide services to victims of hate crimes, please call the National Center for Victims of Crime at
Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, National Office
Center for Democratic Renewal
Center for Women Policy Studies
National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
Southern Poverty Law Center
Copyright 2001 by the National Center for Victims of Crime. Contact the National Center for Victims of Crime for reproduction information
Alliance staff make signs for the 2011 Rally to Take Rape Seriously