Immediately call 911 if:
- The incident is happening now or just happened.
Contact your local police department if:
- The incident has already occurred
- The immediate danger may be over
- There were no injuries
What to report:
- Ask the officer(s) to make note of it in their report if you believe the incident was motivated by your race, color, religion, or national origin.
- Give the officer(s) the exact wording of what was said, regardless of how offensive it is, if the hate was expressed in words.
- Point out any witness(es) of the incident to the officer(s).
In Pennsylvania, a person commits ethnic intimidation if he or she is motivated by hatred toward the race, color, religion, or national origin of another individual or group of individuals while committing certain crimes.
A possible hate crime can include, but is not limited to, the following examples:
- Harassment (in person or electronically)
- Physical assault
- Destruction of property
- Criminal trespass
- Arson or firebombing
- Terroristic threats
If it is found that no directly enforceable action can be taken by police, this does not mean what happened to you was not wrong.
- You may also bring a civil cause of action against the perpetrator, which carries a lower burden of proof than proving a crime.
- The perpetrator may be liable to a victim for general and special damages, including damages for emotional distress, punitive damages, and reasonable attorneys' fees and costs.
- You must contact a private attorney to start a civil action.
The PHRC does not charge or investigate hate crimes or criminal offenses. However, the PHRC does track incidents reported to us to inform the Pennsylvania Interagency Task Force on Community Activities and Relations, which is a group of state agencies that:
- Work to prevent and respond to civil tension and violence arising from conflicts between ethnic or cultural groups and when there are public expressions of bias or hate.
- Quickly and appropriately address civil tension when conflicts occur.
- Promote positive community relations among various groups to prevent tension.
The PHRC can also help you in determining if an act of hate also violates the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA).
Contact your local police department or Pennsylvania State Police station if you are reporting a crime that you believe was motivated by hate, such as assault or property damage.