What’s a Hate Crime vs. a Hate-based Incident?
Hate Crime A “hate crime” is a criminal act against a person or property in which the perpetrator chooses the victim because of the victim’s real or perceived race, color, religion, national origin or ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender. Thought or speech would not qualify as a hate crime unless accompanied by criminal action.
As explained by the Anti-Defamation League, what makes hate crimes different from other criminal acts is whenever a bias-motivated crime is committed, often, the victim’s entire community is left feeling victimized, vulnerable, fearful, isolated, and unprotected by the law. Such crimes can also lead to reprisals and a dangerous spiral of escalating inter-group tension and violence. Thus, the impact of this type of bias-motivated crime is far greater than the already terrible impact on the individual.
Hate-based Incident: A “hate-based incident” is non-criminal conduct or words motivated by bigotry, bias, or prejudice directed at an individual or group based upon the individual or group’s real or perceived race, color, religion, national origin or ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender.
A hate-based incident often involves a person or group making non-threatening bigoted, biased, or prejudiced comments to another individual or a group’s real or perceived race, color, religion, national origin or ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender. It also can involve a person displaying a non-threatening, bigoted, biased, or prejudiced message or image in certain contexts. Although deeply hurtful and offensive, hate-based incidents do not violate criminal or civil law. They are not hate crimes or acts of unlawful discrimination. Rather, such incidents are protected free speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However, if over an extended period of time a person directs numerous bigoted, biased, or prejudiced statements to the same person, such a pattern of conduct could rise to the level of unlawful criminal harassment or stalking under certain state laws.
Below are some resources currently available.
- Anti-Defamation League Hate Crime Resources
- Communities Against Hate
- FBI Hate Crime Statistics
- Great Lake Equity Center Toolkits
- HUD Memos on First Amendment Issues and Fair Housing:
- HUD PowerPoint on Fair Housing and Hate Crimes
- Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Stop Hate Project
- National Fair Housing Alliance resource “How to Fight Hate”
- Southern Poverty Law Center:
- Teaching Tolerance
- Connecting the Dots: An Overview of the Links Among Multiple Forms of Violence Report