"Could It Happen to Me?"

Yes, you could be the victim of a Hate Crime based on your race, religion, ethnicity, national orientation, sexual orientation or disability.

A look at Preventing, Identifying & Reporting Hate Crimes at Amherst College - 


When an individual is victimized by crime, he or she often asks "why did this happen to me?" Frequently there is no reason that can be identified as to why that person was targeted, however in certain cases there is a specific reason. If an individual is targeted because of their

  • Religion
  • Race or Ethnicity
  • National Orientation
  • Gender or Sexual Orientation
  • Disability

Then the crime that has been committed is called a Hate Crime.

What Is a Hate Crime

According to Massachusetts Law, a Hate Crime is any criminal act coupled with overt actions motivated by bigotry and bias including, but not limited to, a threatened, attempted, or completed overt act motivated at least in part by racial, religious, ethnic, disability, gender or sexual orientation prejudice, or which otherwise deprives another person of his/her constitutional rights by threats, intimidation or coercion, or which seek to interfere with or disrupt a person's exercise of constitutional rights through harassment or intimidation. Hate Crimes have received high levels of attention in recent years, particularly since the 1990 passage of a Federal Act put in place to monitor the reporting of Hate/Bias motivated crimes. This act identifies the hate or bias component of a crime as a specific offense, separate from but related to the original offense. Hate/Bias crimes carry different penalties and mandatory sentences for perpetrators who are found guilty. The reporting of Hate Crimes as well as the subsequent investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators may act as a deterrent and also helps to keep the public informed about the scope of the problem.

Factors in the Identification of a Hate Crime

  • You don't actually have to identify within one of the target groups to be a victim of a hate crime. The crime is considered a Hate Crime if the perpetrators perception puts you in to that category. For Example: if a heterosexual man is walking past an establishment that is widely known as a gay bar and is attacked by a group of males who make homophobic remarks based on their incorrect belief that he is a homosexual, the crime is a Hate Crime. Regardless of his sexual orientation, he has been targeted because of the perpetrator's bias.
  • A Hate Crime can fall under the categories of: Hate Violence Against Persons, Hate Motivated Vandalism, or Hate Motivated Threats and Harassment.
  • Some factors which may indicate that an incident constitutes a Hate Crime are: Bias related comments or graffiti, no economic motive for the assault or battery, a crime involving disproportionate cruelty or brutality, the offender's criminal history, or if the crime occurs on a specific day or at a specific place or event that is relevant to the victim's race, ethnicity, religion, disability, or sexual orientation.

What Should You Do If It Happens to You

  • If necessary and possible, obtain Medical Attention or Police Assistance during or soon after the incident.
  • Report the incident. The sooner you report the better in terms of a criminal investigation. The Police Department is here to help. We have trained Officers as well as an appointed Sensitive Crimes Investigator available to handle your case. We understand how difficult it can be to come forward and report a crime of this type, and we are committed to serving and protecting every member of our community with professionalism and sensitivity. There will be no tolerance for crimes of this nature at Amherst College.
  • Use your resources. An Investigator at the Police Department can provide you with the contact information for a variety of area resources (both on and off campus) which may be specifically applicable and helpful in your case. Please don't hesitate to request this information at any time. It is important to talk to someone about the incident. We encourage you to use the professional resources available to you.
  • If you aren't sure whether or not an incident may be a Hate Crime speak with an Officer. They will listen to your story and help to provide any resources or services that may be necessary including a full investigation of the incident.

We are here to help.