Hate / Bias Crimes

HATE CRIMES REPORTING NETWORK:  The Indiana Hate Crimes Reporting Network was developed by the ICRC Hate Crimes Task Force. The Columbus Human Rights Commission is a member of this network, as is the Columbus Police Department. The purpose of the Network is to gather statistical information regarding "hate crimes" and "bias incidents" in the State of Indiana. The statistical information is gathered by law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and community based organizations.

DEFINITION OF A HATE CRIME:  The Indiana General Assembly passed bias crime reporting legislation that defines a bias crime as follows: "an offense in which the person who committed the offense knowingly or intentionally: (a) selected the person who was injured; or (b) damaged or otherwise affected property by the offense because of the color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation of the injured person or of the owner or occupant of the affected property was associated with any other recognizable group or affiliation." (Section 1. IC 5-2-5-1; House Enrolled Act No. 1011, Effective July 1, 2000).

For purposes of its data collection, the FBI defines a hate crime as: "a criminal offense committed against a person or property which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender's bias against the victim's race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, national origin, or sexual-orientation." Even if the offender was mistaken in his/her perception that the victim was a member of the group, the offense is still considered a hate crime because the offender was motivated by bias against the person or group.

To report a hate crime call your nearest law enforcement office, or call the Columbus Human Rights Commission at: 812-376-2532;  TDD 812-375-2720; FAX 812-375-2752; or email humanrights@columbus.in.gov.

What You Should Do If You Are A Victim Of A Hate Crime That Involves Violence, Threats Of Violence, Or Damage To Property*:
All hate incidents are unique and you must use your own judgment in regard to your own individual action plan. Here, however, are some suggestions that might prove useful:

  • If you are assaulted or attacked, call 911 and seek medical attention. You should seek medical attention even if you do not believe you are seriously injured.
  • Report the incident to the police. You should report any crime as soon as possible to your state or local police. The emergency number of the state police is 1-800-582-8440.
  • Report all hate crimes to the Indiana Hate Crimes Reporting Network, which communicates these crimes to the F.B.I. You make this report by contacting the Columbus Human Rights Commission at 1-812-376-2532, or by contacting the Indiana Civil Rights Commission at 1-800-628-2909. Ask for a copy of the Hate Crime Incident Report that should be filled out by you, or on your behalf. Make this report even if you already reported the crime to your local or state police, because the police may not have classified the crime as a hate crime.
  • Document the hate crime. Document specific details, photograph visible signs of the incident (injuries, bruises, vandalism, graffiti, etc.). Make notes of pertinent facts while they are fresh in your mind. Details can be important. Keep a list of names of police officers, hospital workers and court officials to whom you speak and write down what they say.
  • Develop a safety plan. Notify friends and family of the incident. Think through steps to reduce any danger. If you know the identity of person who harmed you, consider obtaining a civil protective order. Contact the clerk's office at the courthouse in the county where you live for information on protective order applications, and requests for waiver of court fees if you are poor.
  • Alert the community. Perpetrators of hate violence perceive a lack of police, media, and public response as encouragement to commit additional acts. You should not feel alone-hate violence is a community problem, not an individual one. Most communities are willing to stand up to hate crimes and to insist public officials take appropriate action. For ideas, contact the your local Human Rights Commission, or the Indiana Civil Rights Commission.

*Source: The Indiana Civil Rights Commission

What You Should Do If You Are A Victim Of Harassment Based On Your National Origin, Ancestry, Race, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Or Disability:
All hate incidents are unique and you must use your own judgment in regard to your own individual action plan. Here, however, are some suggestions that might prove useful:

  • If you are harassed at work, tell your supervisor, or the personnel office immediately that you have been harassed and you want it to stop immediately. Then follow steps 5 through 7, below.
  • If you are harassed in a place of public accommodation, for example, a restaurant, a mall, etc., go to the counter or office and report the harassment to management and tell management you want them to stop the harassment immediately, even if that means requiring the harassing customer or harassing employee to leave the premises. Then follow steps 5 through 7, below.
  • If you are harassed by a government agency or a law enforcement agency, contact your local Human Rights Commission at 1-812-376-2532, and ask for help filing a complaint of discrimination against a government agency, or contact the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Civil Rights, at 1-202-307-0690 and ask to file a complaint of discrimination against a government agency. Then follow steps 5 through 7, below.
  • If you are harassed in your home or at a friend's home by neighbors, report the problem to the police and your landlord (if you rent) immediately.The emergency number of the state police is 1-800-582-8440. Tell your landlord you want them to do everything possible to make the harassment stop, including evicting the harassing neighbor, if the neighbor has the same landlord you do. Then follow steps 5 through 7, below.
  • Also report all types of harassment immediately to your local Human Rights Commission or the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. Explain to the Commission that you wish to file a complaint of discrimination, and to report a hate crime. You make this report by contacting the Columbus Human Rights Commission at 1-812-376-2532, or by contacting the Indiana Civil Rights Commission at 1-800-628-2909. Ask for a copy of the Hate Crime Incident Report that should be filled out by you, or on your behalf. Make this report even if you already reported the crime to your local or state police, because the police may not have classified the crime as a hate crime.
  • Document the harassment. Document specific details, including what was said, by who, when and where, and if any threats to you or your property were made. Keep copies of any harassing documents, and photograph visible signs of the incident (graffiti, etc.). Make notes of pertinent facts while they are fresh in your mind. Keep a list of names of police officers, hospital workers and court officials to whom you speak and write down what they say.
  • Develop a safety plan. Notify friends and family of the incident. If you know the identity of person who harassed you, and the harassment included harm, or threats of harm to you or your property, consider obtaining a civil protective order. Contact the clerk's office at the courthouse in the county where you live for information on protective order applications, and requests for waiver of court fees if you are poor. 
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