BOSTON (CBS) — Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office announced Monday that it has created a hotline for state residents to report harassment and intimidation of minorities, women, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community stemming from last week’s presidential election.
In a release, Healey’s office said the hotline was set up in response to “reports of harassment and intimidation of racial, ethnic and religious minorities, women, LGBTQ individuals and immigrants since Election Day,” and would be managed by attorneys and staff in the AG’s office.
Such incidents have been reported nationwide following Tuesday’s election.
The Massachusetts attorney general says her office has seen an uptick across the state of reports of bias-motivated threats, harassment and violence. She says the spike came immediately after the election.
Healey says the hotline has two goals: fighting discrimination and keeping people safe.
CBS News has reported on Muslim women wearing hijabs have been harassed and intimidated following Donald Trump’s victory, as well as post-election harassment and bullying in schools nationwide.
In Natick Monday, a man told police he received letters on his doorstep that warned him to stop bringing people of color to his home, and which stated that white people had “reclaimed the country” by electing Trump as president.
On Sunday night on 60 Minutes, President-elect Donald Trump was asked about reports of harassment coming from his supporters across the country.
“I am so saddened to hear that, and I say stop it,” Trump said.
Harmann Singh, a Harvard Law student, says he was followed, targeted, and harassed while walking across Massachusetts Avenue from one Cambridge store into another.
“And I heard him talk to the counter clerk first and he walked in and said, ‘Oh, there’s a Muslim,’ ” Singh told WBZ-TV News.
“And he just kept guessing where I was from. And after a few guesses and him standing right here while I was at the counter, I told him, ‘Hey, I was born in New York. I was born and raised there. I live down the street and is there anything I can do to help you?’ And he didn’t respond,” Singh added.
Healey’s office reminded people that they should report potential hate crimes, like assault, battery, or property damage, to police first, and call 911 if they feel they are in immediate danger.
The office also said that all reports would be tracked regardless of whether or not legal action is deemed an appropriate response.
“In Massachusetts, we will protect people’s rights, fight discrimination and keep people safe,” Healey said in the release. “There are reports from around the country following the election that people have been targeted and subjected to conduct that imperils safety and civil rights. Today, I am establishing a hotline for residents to report bias-motivated threats, harassment, and violence. Such conduct has no place in Massachusetts.”
Residents who witness or are affected by threats, harassment, or violence motivated by bias can call the hotline at 1-800-994-3228. They can also fill out a civil rights complaint form on the state’s website, or reach out to them through social media on Twitter and Facebook.
Healey also assured those in immigrant communities that they should have no fears of immigration status-based reprisals in reporting potential abuses of their civil rights.
Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes, who is also the President of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs, said in the AG’s release that the state’s police departments were ready to take action based on incidents reported to the hotline.
“The Police Departments across the Commonwealth are committed to ensuring that the constitutional rights of all individuals including racial, ethnic, religious, and LGBTQ groups are not violated by any form of harassment and/or intimidation contrary to the law and stand ready to investigate any allegations of wrongdoing and take the appropriate enforcement action,” Kyes said in a statement.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz reports