Massachusetts' attorney general is launching a new hotline to report harassment and intimidation of minority groups.
Residents are encouraged to call 1-800-994-3228 or fill out a civil rights complaint form online if they've witnessed or experienced bias-motivated threats, harassment or violence against racial, ethnic and religious minorities, women, immigrants and lesbian, gay and transgender individuals.
Staff and lawyers in Attorney General Maura Healey's office are monitoring the hotline.
The office says it will be tracking reports and referring cases to local law enforcement officials or the office's Criminal Bureau. Hate crimes are generally prosecuted by local district attorney's offices.
Healey, an openly gay Democrat, says she's launching the hotline following reports that people across the country have been targeted and harassed since the election of Donald Trump as president.
Harmann Singh, a Cambridge, Massachusetts resident, told necn that he experienced a racial incident over the weekend when a man came up to him in a store on Massachusetts Avenue and heckled him for his appearance.
Singh is a Sikh but heard a clerk at a counter say, "there is a (expletive) Muslim."
“I’m a Sikh, it’s the fifth largest religion in the world,” Singh recalled. “He continued to ask, ‘are you from Morocco,’ he kept guessing.”
He believes the incident was just another racist feeling emboldened by Donald Trump’s presidential win.
“There are a lot of feelings of not feeling safe in our own country,” Singh said.
Singh, who’s also a Harvard Law student, fears more discrimination is likely. He says what made his most recent encounter more painful, is that no one spoke up or came to his defense.
“I think that’s what really got to me is that they had the opportunity to stand up, but they didn’t,” Singh said.
Healy says every harassment complaint going forward will be taken seriously. The American Civil Liberties Union and Anti-Defamation League are also keeping track of the complaints.
“We’ll take appropriate action as necessary,” Healy said. “Whether it’s on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.”
If you believe that your civil rights have been violated, you may file a Civil Rights Complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the Office of Attorney General Maura Healey.