Hate Crimes

A hate crimes law protects LGBT Coloradans from harassment, violence, and other bias-motivated crime.Last updated: November 17, 2016

What to do if you are the victim of a hate crime, or witness a hate crime, in Colorado:

If you feel your life or health is in immediate danger, call 911.

If the threat is not immediate, report the hate crime to any of the following law enforcement agencies in your area as soon as possible, so that evidence can be preserved and witnesses can be interviewed:

Your local police or sheriff’s department:

For a list of police and sheriff’s departments, see: http://www.50states.com/colorado/police_departments.htm and http://www.csoc.org/counties.asp

Your local District Attorney’s Office:

For a map of districts and their contact information, see: http://www.cdacweb.com

The local FBI office:

FBI Denver
8000 East 36th Avenue
Denver, CO 80238
(303) 629-7171

If you are in Denver and uncomfortable reporting to police on your own, you can go to the GLBT Center of Colorado and a staff member will help you place the call:

GLBT Community Center of Colorado
1301 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80218
(303) 733-7743

Once you have reported to law enforcement, or if you are uncomfortable or unable to report the hate crime to law enforcement, the Anti-Defamation League in Colorado and the Southern Poverty Law Center collect information on hate crimes. They have simple online forms you can fill out.

To report a hate crime to the Anti-Defamation League, you can do so at this link: http://denver.adl.org/contact/

To report a hate crime to the Southern Poverty Law Center, you can do so at this link: https://www.splcenter.org/reporthate

More information about hate crimes:

What is Hate Crime?

A hate crime is a threat or act of intimidation, harassment, or physical force that is motivated by bias against a person or group based on their actual or perceived: Race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, and physical or mental disability.

What does Colorado law say?

There are both federal and state laws that protect victims of hate crime. Colorado law breaks hate crime into two categories, “Bias motivated harassment” and “Bias motivated crime.”

Bias Motivated Harassment (C.R.S. § 18-9-111)

Bias-motivated harassment is a Class 1 misdemeanor. A person commits bias-motivated harassment if, with the intent to harass another person because of that person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin, he or she:

  • Strikes/shoves/kicks/otherwise touches another
  • Directs obscene language or makes obscene gesture in public
  • Follows a person in or about a public place
  • Initiates communications intended to harass or threaten bodily injury or property damage by telephone, computer network, etc.
  • Makes repeated telephone calls with no purpose of legitimate conversation
  • Makes repeated communications at inconvenient hours
  • Makes repeated insults/taunts/challenges likely to provoke a violent or disorderly response

Bias Motivated Crime (C.R.S. § 18-9-121)

Bias-motivated crime can be charged as a misdemeanor (for threats or damage to property) or as a felony (for cases involving bodily injury). A person commits a bias-motivated crime if, with the intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation (including transgender status), he or she:

  • Knowingly causes bodily injury to another person
  • By words or conduct, knowingly places another person in fear of imminent lawless action directed at that person or that person’s property and such words or conduct are likely to produce bodily injury to that person or damage to that person’s property
  • Knowingly causes damage to or destruction of the property of another person

Colorado’s transgender-inclusive law was successfully used for the first time in 2009 in the murder case of Angie Zapata, a transgender Coloradan who was brutally murdered by Allen Ray Andrade. Andrade was found guilty of first-degree murder, hate crimes, and theft and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.


Matthew Shepard became the victim of one of the most notorious anti-gay hate crimes in the nation’s history, and his parents, Judy and Dennis, dedicated their lives to strengthening hate crimes law and raising awareness of the violence the LGBTQ+ community faced. In October 2009, the Shepards joined President Barack Obama as he signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. It expanded prior federal hate crimes law to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Shepard-Byrd Act was a historic victory, but it was merely one milestone of many needed to comprehensively address hate crimes. Reporting of these crimes by law enforcement agencies is still only voluntary, and dozens of them fail to report every year. There is also still a significant lack of inclusive hate crimes laws at the state level, where the vast majority of such crimes are prosecuted. (Taken from the Matthew Shepard Foundation)

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