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Understanding hate crimes

Hate crimes are criminalized across the United States, and are defined as an act that is motivated by the hatred of a person's skin color, race, nationality or ethnicity. In the state of Pennsylvania, these crimes are referred to generally as acts of ethnic intimidation.

Hate crimes can occur as part of interactions with the general public, but they can also happen within the workplace. Many people do not know how to identify hate crimes as such, and therefore, it is important to understand how they are defined.

How is a hate crime defined?

A hate crime can include a broad range of actions. This criminal behavior might come in the form of harassment, physical assault or threats, but for it to be classed as a hate crime, it must be proven that it was motivated by discrimination and ethnic hatred. When it comes to hate crimes, the reason for an action is what defines it.

What should I do if I have become victim to a hate crime?

If you believe that you have been a victim of a hate crime, whether at work or in your personal life, it is important to take action as soon as possible. If you find yourself in the midst of a hate crime, you should call 9-1-1. If you are no longer in danger, but a hate crime has taken place, you should make a report with your local police service.

It is important that you understand the different types of hate crimes that can happen, and the broad settings in which they can occur. It is important that you stand up for your rights if you have been ethnically intimidated in any way.

Source: Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, "What is a hate crime?," accessed Feb. 15, 2018

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