Hate Crimes

Duke University Police Department

Duke University is committed to the principles of respect, trust, inclusion, discovery, and excellence. Additionally, the Duke University Police Department understands our unique role in the University Community. We dedicate ourselves to the specific mission to prevent violence, reduce fear, and build relationships.

The Duke University Police Department responds to any Duke Community member’s complaint of a Hate Crime or bias incident with a special focus on caring for both the individual victim and the affected community, as well as to address overall community safety and solve the crime.  

Some expressions of bias, though offensive and potentially a violation of civil law or University policy, are not Hate Crimes unless they satisfy certain legal criteria. In other words, there must be an actual violation of NC law and the crime must be motivated in whole, or in part, by a bias to be labeled a Hate Crime. Those incidents that do not meet this criteria might be labeled a hate or bias incident. This is not to minimize the harm – it is a legal classification.  Regardless of the classification, University departments, such as OIE, HR, and Student Affairs, will work collaboratively to support, investigate and adjudicate the incident.

Hate Crime investigations are a high priority for this department. Officers and investigators may take various actions to try to determine who committed the crime, such as interviews, a canvas of the area, review of cameras and other systems, etc.  We also consult with external law enforcement – the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US Attorney’s Office, local agencies, etc.  In cases that are not violations of law, DUPD will work with our campus partners to address the fear and disruption that may occur in the wake of such a bias incident. For more information about Duke’s policies, see https://oie.duke.edu

DUPD reports all Hate Crime and bias incidents as federally mandated by the Clery Act and voluntarily to the NC State Bureau of Investigation for inclusion in Federal reporting. DUPD has certified members and investigators who can review, investigate and validate whether a reported incident is a Hate Crime or bias incident in compliance with state and federal law.

Anyone who is aware of a Hate Crime, hate/bias incident or other concerning behavior should report it to any of the following:

Hate Crimes Statutory Authority and Reporting Requirements**

Federal Authority

The Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990 requires the US Attorney General to acquire data regarding criminal violations that contain evidence of prejudice based on race, gender, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin and disability.

Crimes that will be reported include, but are not limited to, the crimes of murder, non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape or sexual offense, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, larceny, intimidation, arson, and destruction, damage or vandalism to property.

North Carolina Hate Crimes Statutes

            NCGS 14-3 (c) – If any Class 2 or Class 3 misdemeanor is committed because of the victim’s race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin, the offender shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. If any Class 1 misdemeanor is committed because of the victim’s race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin, the offender shall be guilty of a Class I felony.

            NCGS 14-12.12 – The unauthorized burning of a cross on someone else’s property, and the unauthorized burning of a cross on a public street or highway or private property with the intention of intimidating any person.

            NCGS 14-401.14 – Ethnic Intimidation, which comprises two crimes: 1) To assault another person, or damage the property of another person, or deface the property of another person, or threaten to do any such act because of race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin. 2) To assemble with one or more persons to teach any technique or means used to commit any act in violation of the above.

**Please note that the reporting definitions to the federal government and the classes of persons covered by NC Statute differ.


1) How do you prove that a crime was motivated by bias? Do racial epithets count? Do symbols, such as swastikas, count?

  • Investigators can look at a number of factors to show that bias may have played a part in a crime. This could include interviews with suspects, name calling at the time of the incident, symbols used during the crime, or corollary evidence such as information gathered from social media or other published writings. Individuals with specialized training from the state, work to make a determination concerning a hate crime, including consultation with other entities, such as the District Attorney, etc. Ultimately, the determination of bias will be a question for the court based on the facts presented in the case.

2) I found some flyers on campus that appear to come from a White Supremacist group. Is this a Hate Crime? Should I report it?

  • Depending on the content of the flyers it may, or may not, be a hate crime. However, any material found on campus with ties to white supremacist or hate groups should be reported immediately to DUPD, so that we can assess potential threats to the community, take steps to protect our students and staff, so that students and staff get the support they need.

3) If someone yells a LGBT slur as they drive by, is that a hate crime?

  • Generally, use of derogatory names in the absence of threats or other crimes will not be a hate crime. However, this may violate Duke’s Community Standards or other equity policies. If the perpetrator is a member of the Duke community they may be held accountable for violations of Duke’s policies.

4)  If someone wrote graffiti on the Free Expression Bridge that contains biased speech, what do I do?           

  • Generally, painting the East Campus Bridge is not considered a crime, as it is available to all students to paint for many reasons. However, painting derogatory names or other offensive content may be a violation of Duke policy. If you find offensive content on the Bridge, it should be reported to Hate and Bias Response.

5)  Someone wrote hate speech directed at my roommate on our white board in the residence hall. I erased it to spare my roommate but now I think I should report it. What should I do?

  • You can report this type of incident to Residence Life staff, such as an RA or RC. If you think that there was a threat or other immediate concern about safety, also report this to DUPD.

6) What do I do if I am the victim of a hate crime or bias incident?

  • Please reach out for support! You can always call DUPD and we can help get you connected to the right resources, even if the hate crime or bias incident did not occur at Duke. You may also report online to Hate and Bias Response or OIE. Students can also get support from Duke Reach (https://studentaffairs.duke.edu/dukereach1/reporting-concern) and employees can get support from Duke Personal Assistance Service (https://pas.duke.edu/).

7) What are examples of hate crimes?

  • A transgendered student has the word “f@ggot” scratched into the paint of their car.
    • Although a crime has been committed (Injury to Personal Property), the state of North Carolina does not consider LGBQ+ individuals to belong to a protected class. However, the underlying crime may still be investigated and adjudicated through the courts. If reported to the DUPD, it would be reported as a hate crime for federal statistical purposes only.
  • Someone spray paints a 6MWE on the Freeman Center.
    • The crime would be Damage to Real Property with an anti-Jewish bias.
  • A visitor attempts to punch a Muslim student and yells, “terrorist”
    • The crime would be Attempted Assault with an anti-Muslim bias.
  • A group of three people plan to deface the MLW Center before a big MLK, Jr. Day event, but are discovered before they can complete the criminal acts.
    • The crime would be Ethnic Intimidation.