Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey testifies before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, in Boston earlier this year. ((AP Photo/Steven Senne, File))
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on November 14, 2016 at 3:40 PM, updated November 14, 2016 at 3:50 PM
2016 PRESIDENTIAL RACE
AG Maura Healey: Mass. residents' rights will be protected from post-election hate crimes
Women fear effects of Donald Trump presidency on attitudes, abortion rights
BOSTON — Amid a post-election uptick in hate crimes in Massachusetts and across the country, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has set up a hotline to take reports of incidents of bias and discrimination.
"My job as attorney general is to not wait for bad things to happen but to make sure people know here in the state of Massachusetts that their rights will be protected, that the attorney general's office will be here to work with our partners in law enforcement to enforce the law and defend people's rights," Healey said at a press conference on Monday.
The hotline will be available for Massachusetts residents to report bias-motivated threats, harassment and violence that they experienced or witnessed. Residents should still report any hate crimes, such as bias-motivated assault, battery and property damage, to their local police.
According to Healey, the hotline will be managed by attorneys and staff in her office. Some matters may be referred to local law enforcement or to district attorneys' offices for investigation. Others will be investigated for civil or criminal enforcement by Healey's office.
"I want residents around the state to know they have a place where they can report incidents, and that the attorney general's office will review all of those matters as they come in and will take appropriate action as necessary, working with others in law enforcement," Healey said. "I think it's vitally important that we make clear that, in Massachusetts, people have rights, and those rights are to be protected."
Healey declined to specify how many incidents she is aware of in Massachusetts and whether her office is involved in any investigations.
Incidents reported in the media include: Anti-Semitic and racist pro-Trump graffiti was spray painted on Mount Tom earlier this month; volunteers mobilized Friday and over the weekend to clean it up. Two male Babson College students on Wednesday drove around the Wellesley College campus, the women's school that Clinton attended, reportedly waving a Trump flag, yelling sexist slurs and spitting at women; one later apologized on Facebook but denied using profanity or spitting.
A postal service worker at a Cambridge gas station allegedly yelled at a Hispanic man to "go back to your country" because "this is Trump land." Letters containing threats, racial slurs against black people and profanities were sent to a home in Natick. A swastika was reportedly carved into a Jamaica Plain recycling bin. A Sikh man studying at Harvard wrote on Facebook that he was harassed in Cambridge by a man who mistook him for a Muslim.
Healey said if someone calls the hotline, her office will investigate to determine whether a crime occurred and whether there is a criminal or civil offense.
"Going forward, to the extent (someone) witnessed or experienced or were subjected to anything that appears to be bias-motivated harassment or violence, whether it's on the basis of race or ethnicity or religion or sexual orientation or their status as an immigrant, they need to know that there are laws in the state of Massachusetts that protect them," Healey said. "I will be there to enforce those rights and protect those rights and work with others in law enforcement to keep people safe."
The Anti-Defamation League has reported an uptick in hate incidents since the election.
Healey said she was motivated to establish the hotline by the uptick in hate crimes since Republican Donald Trump won the presidential election after a divisive and emotional campaign. Healey supported Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
"It naturally follows what has been a presidential election campaign cycle that involved at times some pretty outrageous conduct and statements," Healey said. "There has been a divisiveness throughout this election, and I think that you see actions and conduct in the wake of that."
The attorney general's hotline can be reached at 1-800-994-3228. Residents can also fill out a civil rights complaint form online.
Separately, the national Anti-Defamation League created its own online form for anyone to report anti-Semitic, racist or bigoted incidents. The ADL is encouraging social media users to draw attention to racist incidents by using the Twitter hashtag #ExposeHate.
Citing reports of harassment and intimidation of racial, ethnic and religious minorities in the days after the presidential election, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, the state's top prosecutor, on Monday launched a hotline to allow people to report those types of incidents.