by Molly Fox, Hate Crime Victim Service Coordinator, New England Arab American Organization 

When we talk about hate-fueled incidents, we may be referring to hate speech, or hate crimes, or even hate bias. Most of us understand that any action motivated by hate is socially harmful, but do we know when hatred has gone far enough to violate Maine law? 

  The law distinguishes between hate crime and hate speech. Hate speech refers to offensive or discriminatory language that targets someone because of their race, religion, nationality, color, descent, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, ability, or other identifying factor. Although most of us can easily identify hate speech – especially on social media – there is no agreed-upon definition recognized under international human rights law. In the U.S., hate speech cannot be prosecuted as a crime because it is protected by the First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech. 

  Hate crime, however, can and should be prosecuted when there is proof that a crime was motivated by hate bias towards people with specific characteristics that are protected by civil rights law. Maine’s Civil Rights Act provides for “the right to engage in lawful activities without being subject to physical force or violence, damage or destruction of property, trespass on property or the threat of physical force or violence, damage or destruction of property or trespass on property motivated by reason of race, color, religion, sex, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability or sexual orientation.  

  In 2021, there were 75 victims of hate crime in Maine, 50 perpetrators, and a total of 83 offenses. About half of these were directed at individuals because of race or ethnicity. A third were directed to individuals because of sexual orientation. For more information about hate crime in Maine:

New England Arab American Organization (NEAAO) recognizes significant barriers to reporting hate crime. The language of the law is technical. Fear of reprisal and further violence may be a deterrent. Or some victims worry about how police will react. Will concerns be taken seriously? Is the evidence enough to achieve justice in a court of law? We also know that sharing a story multiple times can deepen trauma. These concerns are particularly resonant for the people most vulnerable to hate crime – sometimes entire communities. 

  Even a single incident can set a community on edge, undermining the sense of security, and this is one reason that reporting hate crime is important. Law enforcement reminds us that incidents of harassment – persistent name-calling, stalking, threats – are important to report because these may establish a pattern of behavior that builds up toward hate crime. And there are remedies – such as “protection from harassment” orders – that can limit perpetrator actions. Maine police departments have officers trained in civil rights law who can lead investigations. Hate crimes reported to local police are reported to the FBI as part of the Hate Crimes Statistics Act. Reporting hate crimes can impact what future services are available for victims. 

  So if you have suffered an incident fueled by hate, first take care of yourself. When you are able, write down everything you remember, along with the date and time. Were there witnesses? Look for evidence. If there is vandalism, take photos. Document everything, including your emotional state and any injuries. Call 911 and report the crime. Share any thoughts you have about being targeted because of your identifying characteristics that are protected under civil rights law. If the evidence indicates a possible hate crime, the police officer will forward this to the Maine Attorney General’s office for review. Police officers do not have the authority to determine whether a crime is hate motivated or not; this responsibility, along with a plan for prosecution, lies with the Attorney General’s office. But a law enforcement officer can write a solid report based on your account, witness accounts, and evidence. 

  Many organizations across Maine address hate crime and hate speech within their communities, providing avenues for both activism and healing. As part of a national cohort of 12 organizations funded by Futures Without Violence to address hate crime, NEAAO hopes to serve as a hub for victims and organizations seeking remedies. 

Anyone who is unsure of what next steps to take can reach out to NEAAO by calling our helpline at (207) 800-5398 or use NEAAO’s confidential chat feature through NEAAO can respond in Arabic, Dari, Pashto, and English, and will enlist interpreters for other languages. We can help navigate local resources, including Maine Crime Victims’ Compensation Program, and offer guidance about harassment orders if the action against you does not meet hate crime criteria. We can also provide support in contacting police and following up on reports that police have filed In addition, you can report hate crime online to the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine to learn about legal options:

الحماية من الكراهية

يميز القانون بين جرائم الكراهية وخطاب الكراهية. يشير الكلام الذي يحض على الكراهية إلى لغة مسيئة أو تمييزية تستهدف شخصًا ما بسبب السلالة،الدين،الجنسية،اللون،النسب،الجنس، الميول الجنسية،العرق،القدرات الشخصيةأوأي عامل تعريف آخر. في الولايات المتحدة، لا يمكن محاكمة خطاب الكراهية كجريمة لأنه محمي بموجب التعديل الأول، حرية التعبير. ومع ذلك،إذا كان الدافع وراء الجريمة هو التحيز الى الكراهية تجاه الأشخاص ذوي الخصائص المحددة التي يحميها قانون الحقوق المدنية، فيمكن مقاضاة الجريمة.
في عام 2021، كان هناك 75 ضحية لجرائم الكراهية في ولاية ماين، و 50 من الجناة، لمجموع 83 جريمة. حوالي نصف هذه الجرائم كانت موجهة إلى اشخاص بسبب السلالة اوالعرق. وما يقارب ثلث الجرائم كانت موجهةإلى الأفراد بسبب ميولهم الجنسية. حتى حادثة واحدة يمكن أن تضع المجتمع في حالة توتر وتضعضع الشعور بالأمان. يذكرنا تطبيق القانون بأنه حتى حوادث المضايقة - الشتائم والمطاردة والتهديدات - مهمة للإبلاغ عنها. قد يؤدي هذا النمط من السلوك في النهاية إلى الاعتداء أو التخريب.
وهناك علاجات. إذا كنت قد تعرضت لفعل مزود بالكراهية ، فاكتب كل ما تتذكره مع التاريخ والوقت. هل كان هناك شهود؟ (لست بحاجة إلى أسماء - ولكن حقيقة أن شخصًا ما ، حتى لو كان شخصًا غريبًا ، شاهد الفعل ، يمكن أن يساعد الشرطة في التحقيق). ابحث عن الأدلة. في حالة حدوث تخريب ، التقط الصور. وثق كل شيء ، بما في ذلك حالتك العاطفية بعد الفعل وأي إصابات. اتصل برقم 911 وأبلغ عن الجريمة. 
شارك بأي معتقد لديك حول الاستهداف بسبب خصائصك التعريفية المحمية بموجب قانون الحقوق المدنية. إذا كان الدليل يشير إلى جريمة كراهية محتملة، فسيقوم الضابط بإحالة ذلك إلى مكتب النائب العام، حيث ستتم مراجعته. تقع مسؤولية تحديد ما إذا كانت الجريمة بدافع الكراهية، وكيف ينبغي مقاضاتها إذا كان الأمر كذلك، على عاتق مكتب المدعي العام، وليس الشرطة. لكن يجب على الشرطي المسؤول كتابة تقرير قوي بناءً على حسابك، روايات الشهود، والأدلة.
المساعدة متاحة من خلال خط المساعدة للمنظمة
 New England Arab American Organization (NEAAO): 207-800-5398
أو استخدم خاصية الدردشة السرية في