AG Healey Announces New Hotline to Report Incidents of Bias in Massachusetts

Nov. 21, 2016
Attorney General Maura Healey recently announced that her office has established a new hotline for Massachusetts residents to report such incidents.

Following reports of harassment and intimidation of racial, ethnic and religious minorities, women, LGBTQ individuals and immigrants since Election Day, Attorney General Maura Healey recently announced that her office has established a new hotline for Massachusetts residents to report such incidents.

“In Massachusetts, we will protect people’s rights, fight discrimination and keep people safe,” said AG Healey. “There are reports from around the country following the election that people have been targeted and subjected to conduct that imperils safety and civil rights. Today, I am establishing a hotline for residents to report bias-motivated threats, harassment, and violence. Such conduct has no place in Massachusetts.” 

“The Police Departments across the Commonwealth are committed to ensuring that the constitutional rights of all individuals including racial, ethnic, religious, and LGBTQ groups are not violated by any form of harassment and/or intimidation contrary to the law and stand ready to investigate any allegations of wrongdoing and take the appropriate enforcement action,” said Chief Brian Kyes, president of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs.

The hotline will be managed by attorneys and staff in the AG’s Office. While not every incident will be appropriate for legal action, the AG’s Office will be tracking reports and appropriate matters may be referred to local law enforcement or the Attorney General’s Criminal Bureau.

Any Massachusetts resident who has witnessed or experienced bias-motivated threats, harassment or violence may call the Attorney General’s Hotline at 1-800-994-3228 or fill out a civil rights complaint form at this link. Residents may also contact the AG’s Office through its social media platforms, including Facebookand Twitter.

Potential hate crimes – including bias-motivated assault, battery, and property damage – should also be reported to the local police in the first instance. Residents who fear for their immediate safety should call 911.  

Most hate crimes are prosecuted by the local District Attorney’s Office. However, in some cases, the offender may also be prosecuted civilly, either in addition to criminal charges or instead of criminal charges, by the AG’s Office under the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act (MCRA).

The MCRA protects the rights of all residents and visitors to Massachusetts to be free from bias-motivated threats, intimidation, and coercion. The MCRA protects the right to use public parks and transportation, walk on public streets, attend school, live peacefully, and enjoy other basic rights. Under the MCRA, the Attorney General may bring legal action against a perpetrator who threatens, intimidates, or coerces another person on the basis of that person’s membership in a protected group (e.g., race, national origin, religion, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability) or protected activity (e.g., exercising the right to vote or the right to associate).

Whether it’s potential hate crimes, housing discrimination, or wage theft, the AG’s Office encourages immigrant communities to come forward with their concerns without fear of reprisal based on immigration status.