Hate crimes

What to do to protect yourself and others

Dear Friends,

Hate crimes are on the rise, here in New York and around the country. People who commit these vile acts must be held accountable. We must send a strong message that we will not tolerate this behavior. My office can sue when victims are targeted because of race, gender, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or other reasons.

My office can call out hate and restore accountability to the community even when a hate crime is not charged. If you are the victim of a hate crime or if you witness one, please contact your local police department immediately. Once you have done that, you may file a civil rights complaint with our online form, or through our hate crimes hotline at 1-800-771-7755.

New York State Attorney General Signature
Headshot of Attorney General Letitia James

If you are the victim of a hate crime, or see or hear one:

  • Call 911 or your local police station to file a report.

  • Ask for the responding officer’s name and badge number.
  • Make sure the officer files an incident-report form and assigns a case number. If the officer doesn’t immediately file a report, go to the police station and ask for one. Always get your own copy, even if the report is preliminary.
  • File a civil-rights complaint online or call 1-800-771-7755.

What can the Office of the New York State Attorney General do?

  • launch civil investigations into bias based acts of violence or intimidation
  • sue the perpetrator when they have harmed another person or violated their civil rights based on protected characteristics
  • take legal action, even if local prosecutors have not charged a hate crime
  • get an injunction to prevent further harm to the community

What can you do if no action was taken by the police?

  • report the incident to the Office of the New York State Attorney General for investigation
  • hire an attorney to bring a civil case against the perpetrator. The perpetrator may have to pay for damages

Checklist to provide detailed information to help the police and the Attorney General’s Office:

  • Did you see or hear threatening language or a physical interaction? Did the perpetrator have any tattoos or other body markings?
  • Was the perpetrator wearing anything with an identifiable logo or message?
  • Did the incident happen during a significant event, like a holiday or cultural celebration?
  • Did you see any alarming graffiti, like racial slurs or swastikas, on public or private property?
  • Did you see damage to a cemetery, church, or temple?
  • Has a similar incident ever happened in your community? When? Where?


Office of the New York State Attorney General

Hate crime hotline: 1-800-771-7755

Online complaint form

The New York State Office of Victim Services