Hate Crimes / Hate Incidents
The Town of Westford and the Westford Police Department take instances of hate and bias seriously and will vigorously investigate all reports brought to our attention. We are committed to the fight against hate and bias crimes and will bring individuals or groups responsible to justice.
Under Massachusetts General Law chapter 22, section 32, a hate crime is defined as any criminal act coupled with overt actions motivated by bigotry and bias including, but not limited to, a threatened, attempted, or completed overt act motivated at least in part by racial, religious, ethnic, handicap, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation prejudice, or which otherwise deprives another person of their constitutional rights by threats, intimidation or coercion, or which seek to interfere with or disrupt a person’s exercise of constitutional rights through harassment or intimidation. Hate Crimes shall also include, but not be limited to, acts that constitute violations of sections thirty-seven and thirty-nine of chapter two hundred and sixty-five, section one hundred and twenty-seven A of chapter two hundred and sixty-six, and chapter two hundred and seventy-two.
Hate incidents are incidents of bias or hate that are not criminal in nature. Although not criminal, the Westford Police Department will also fully investigate Hate/Bias incidents. A Hate/Bias incident is an action or behavior motivated by hate, but which, for one or more reasons, is not a crime. Examples of hate/bias incidents include:
- Displaying hate material on their own property
- Posting hate material that does not result in property damage
- Distribution of materials with hate messages in public places
The United States Constitution allows hate speech as long as it does not interfere with the civil rights of others. While these acts are hurtful, they do not rise to the level of a criminal violation and cannot be prosecuted. However, these incidents have a traumatic impact on the victims and the community at large. In cases where the perpetrator is identified, the Westford Police Department can confront the individual about the complaint and explain the impact it had on the victim and community.
These incidents can also be reported to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office through an online incident-based reporting form: