By Attorney Susan Kivuvani, Esq
The February 28th google doodle celebrated the birthday of a selfless volunteer, Abdul Sattar Edhi who stated, “People have become educated, but yet to become human”. How true!
When anger, ignorance and outrage combine to bully, intimidate or harass or assault another human being, a person has lost their humanity and at that time their color, education or background cannot compensate enough.
Recently there has been an alarming spike in reports of hate crimes mostly directed towards the Muslim and Jewish communities. However, in these times of increased intolerance anyone can be targeted because of who you are, or who or what your attacker thinks you are.
If you or anyone you know has been bullied, intimidated, attacked, assaulted, or property vandalized due to gender, religion, disability, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, you are a victim of a hate crime.
There are reports of people experiencing harassment at school, at work, at home, on the street, in grocery stores and in public establishments mostly through messages of hate and intolerance in the form of verbal harassment/intimidation and in some instances through violence such as the recent devastating shooting in Kansas.
In light of these events, below is some information should you find yourself to be the target of a hate crime.
The FBI defines a hate crime as “a criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”
The Civil Rights Act of 1968 enacted 18 U.S.C. § 245(b)(2), which permits federal prosecution of anyone who “willingly injures, intimidates or interferes with another person, or attempts to do so, by force because of the other person’s race, color, religion or national origin” or because of the victim’s attempt to engage in one of six types of federally protected activities, such as attending school, patronizing a public place/facility, applying for employment, acting as a juror in a state court or voting.
Persons violating this law face a fine or imprisonment of up to one year, or both. If this results in bodily injury or if such acts of intimidation involve the use of firearms, explosives or fire, individuals can receive prison terms of up to 10 years, while crimes involving kidnapping, sexual assault, or murder can be punishable by life in prison or the death penalty.
The Texas Hate Crimes Act, recorded in Chapter 411.046 of the Texas Government Code, categorizes any crimes that are perceivably motivated by “prejudice, hatred, or advocacy of violence” as hate crimes.
Like the FBI’s classification determiners, these crimes are linked to any prejudices directed at gender, gender identity, religion, disability, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and religion.
Below are some steps you can take if you are a victim of a hate crime.
- Get medical help, if necessary.
- Write down any and all of the details of the crime as soon as possible after the incident.Include the perpetrator[s] gender, age, height, race, weight, clothes and other distinguishing characteristics. If any threats or biased comments were made, include them in your narrative.
- Contact your local police department and file an incident report.
- Get the responding officer’s name and badge number
- Make sure the officer files an incident report form and assigns a case number. If a police report is not taken at the time of your report, go to the police station and ask for one. Always get your own copy, even of the preliminary report.
- In addition to filing a police report, you may report the incident to your local FBI field office for potential further investigation. You may also contact your state Attorney General’s office to inform them of the incident.
- Texas FBI Field Offices
- FBI Dallas
One Justice Way
Dallas, TX 75220
Phone: (972) 559-5000
Fax: (972) 559-5600
- FBI El Paso
El Paso Federal Justice Center
660 South Mesa Hills Drive
El Paso, TX 79912
Phone: (915) 832-5000
Fax: (915) 832-5259
- FBI Houston
1 Justice Park Drive
Houston, TX 77092
Mail: P.O. Box 926277
Houston, TX 77292-6277
Phone: (713) 693-5000
Fax: (713) 936-8999
- FBI San Antonio
5740 University Heights Blvd.
San Antonio, TX 78249
Phone: (210) 225-6741
Fax: (210) 650-6153
- State Attorney General’s Office
- Office of the Attorney General
300 W. 15th Street
Austin, TX 78701
Main Agency Switchboard:(512) 463-2100
Public Information & Assistance (800) 252-8011 or (512) 475-4413 (in Austin)
Susan Kivuvani, Esq.
Ahluwalia Law Offices P.C.
14180 Dallas Parkway, Parkway Office Center
Suite 720, Dallas, Texas 75254
(972) 361 -0999 (fax)
Her Facebook profile: Susan Kivuvani on Facebook