Emotions are riding high in reaction to the death of Osama bin Laden, as are individual responses. The media is focusing on widespread exuberance, but for some, recent events have reopened emotional wounds from 9/11. Unfortunately, some of the reactions have crossed into the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s definition of hate crimes, that is, that they are “motivated by racial, religious, ethnic, sexual orientation, disability or gender bias.” Immediately following 9/11, there was a rash of hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S.
According to Rick Musquiz, LCSW, Montrose Counseling Center’s Coordinator, “Some people feel a need to reach out and celebrate with others, especially since 9/11 changed so many of us. However, some are taking that to an extreme.”
Hate crimes can take the shape of physical or verbal harm, intimidation, destroying or altering property, or through written statements intended to harm an individual or group. Since the announcement Sunday of bin Laden’s death, a mosque in Maine was vandalized, and an Islamic Center in Minnesota has received hate mail.
As part of Montrose Counseling Center’s , services are available for anyone who is the victim of a hate or bias-related crime. MCC offers trauma counseling and case management services, as well as advocates who can assist and accompany victims through the process of filing a police report and/or getting emergency medical attention, as well as filing for Crime Victim Compensation.
Musquiz points out that although MCC primarily serves the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and HIV communities, the Hate Crimes program is not limited to this population. If you are the victim of a hate- or bias-related crime, please call Montrose Counseling Center at 713.529.0037 or Gay & Lesbian Switchboard Houston at 713.529.3211. The Switchboard is able to get in touch with a Hate Crimes advocate 24 hours a day.