Everything You Need to Know About Witnessing a Hate Crime
Welcome to our handy three-step guide.
Whether they take place online or in real life, hate crimes (a crime committed against someone because of their gender, race, religious beliefs, disability or sexuality) are not new. What is new, however, is that society just isn’t putting up with them anymore.
After the tragic terrorist attack at Manchester Arena last year, hate crimes in the city surged; they initially increased by around 500 percent, according to the Greater Manchester Police. The response? A zero-tolerance approach to both online and real-life hate crimes has been introduced. So, what should you do if you witness one?
STEP ONE: GET HELP
The first thing to do if you witness a hate crime is to get someone to help you out. For instance, this might mean telling a member of staff, if the crime is taking place at a train station. It might mean reporting a comment on Facebook to moderators. If you work in an office, it might mean reporting an incident to your employer. If you’re just walking down the street and see a crime taking place, ring the police (more on that later).
STEP TWO: TAKE (APPROPRIATE) ACTION
Firstly, one thing that doesn’t help at all: kicking off with the person who is committing the hate crime. It might feel tempting to tell the person where to go, but that’s just going to make what is already a bad situation way worse. Only get involved if you know that it’s safe to do so.
If it’s safe to do so, calmly speak to the victim and ignore the person dealing out the abuse. By devoting all your attention to the victim, you are letting them know that they’re not going through this alone. You might make them feel safer. Just pick a random topic – the weather, weekend plans, your last holiday – get chatting and ignore any distractions. Don’t leave their side until you are in a safe space or the abuser has left the scene.
Sometimes when large groups of people witness abuse nobody steps in because everyone assumes that someone else will. Psychologists call this phenomenon ‘bystander apathy’. Well, if you’re even considering stepping in it is time to do something. Also, remember that once one person has done something it’s likely that others will too. But don’t put yourself in any danger.
STEP THREE: GRASS THEM UP
One of the most important things to do when you witness a hate crime taking place is to ring the police and report it. Hate crime is one of the highest priorities for the Greater Manchester Police right now, but they only respond to crimes that they know exist. If hate crimes are taking place in a particular area, they need to know. And if people call you a grass? Well, if they defend people who commit hate crimes do you want to know them anyway?
One thing about Manchester is that it has a really diverse population; one that us Mancs are unquestionably proud of. It’s the diverse cocktail of different backgrounds, faiths and life experiences that makes us who we are. It’s what makes this city so special. Let’s keep it that way, yeah? Let’s allow our actions to send out a clear message: We do not tolerate discrimination, hate or abuse in any way, shape or form. And we never will.
Have you been affected by the issues raised in this article? Please click here and get in touch with Stop Hate UK – a charity backed by the police.