In 1998, Matthew Shepard's attackers beat him severely and tied him to this fence outside Laramie, Wyo. Shepard later died in what was widely viewed as an anti-gay attack. 

(Courtesy of Matthew Shepard Foundation)

The Colorado-based Matthew Shepard Foundation, which advocates for hate crimes legislation, is trying to understand why most people are reluctant to report the crimes.

In June, the U.S. Department of Justice released a report on hate crimes between 2011 and 2015.  Based on national surveys, the report showed 54 percent of people who said they were victims of  the crimes chose not to report the incident to police. 

The foundation wanted to know about the people behind those numbers. In February it put out a request to Denverites who had been victims to ask why they did or didn't report hate crimes to police.

The foundation's executive director, Jason Marsden, told Colorado Matters only 15 people responded, but several of those who chose not to go to authorities said they held back because they didn't trust the police to take the report seriously and pursue the perpetrator.