US hate incidents spike after Donald Trump elected

Civil rights group tracks nearly 900 cases of assaults, intimidation, and harassment in 10 days after election win.

People hold placards at an anti-racism protest against U.S. President-elect Donald Trump outside of the U.S. Embassy in London
Protests against Trump and racism have taken place across the world after his election victory [Reuters]

In the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential election victory, the United States saw a “national outbreak of hate” with a spike in assaults, intimidation, and harassments towards ethnic and racial minorities, including children, women, and the LGBT community, a US civil rights group says.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said in a report released on Tuesday that it documented nearly 900 hate incidents within the 10 days following Trump’s election on November 8, but noted it was “almost certainly a small fraction of the actual number” because of underreporting.

Many of the perpetrators invoked the president-elect’s name during the incidents, indicating the surge was linked or motivated by his electoral win, the report said.

It also blamed Trump for running an election campaign “marked by incendiary racial statements and the stoking of white racial resentment” and “opening wounds of division” in the country.

In one of his most controversial statements, Trump said Mexican immigrants were bringing “drugs” and “crime” and described them as “rapists”. He promised to deport millions of undocumented migrants and called for a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US”.

A 2005 recording leaked during the election campaign also caught him making sexually charged and lewd comments about women.

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Ryan Lenz, an editor of the SPLC’s Hatewatch blog, told Al Jazeera the “staggering flood” of reported hate incidents and their severity prompted his organisation to keep track of them for the first time ever. 

“This is the first time we tracked them, which speaks volumes … We’ve never seen something like this,” said Lenz.

He noted the only other parallel episodes of hate in recent times in the country occurred in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks and Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential election.

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“People have experienced harassment at school, at work, at home, on the street, in public transportation, in their cars, in grocery stores and other places of business, and in their houses of worship,” the report said. 

Anti-immigrant and anti-black sentiment were listed as the most common causes for the documented hate acts, making up 32 percent and 23 percent respectively.

SPLC quoted an anonymous Washington state school teacher as saying that “Build a wall” was chanted by students in the cafeteria.

“‘If you aren’t born here, pack your bags,’ was shouted in my own classroom,” she said.

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A mother in Colorado said: “My 12-year-old daughter is African-American. A boy approached her and said, ‘Now that Trump is president, I’m going to shoot you and all the blacks I can find.'”

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In Arlington, Virginia, a woman crossing the street reported that two young white men yelled at her from their car: “You better be ready because with Trump, we can grab you by the [female genitalia] even if you don’t want it.”

The report also said “Muslim women wearing hijabs have been particularly vulnerable to threats and assault.”

Zeinab Arain, of the rights group Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told Al Jazeera from November 9-18 the organisation recorded 111 anti-Muslim incidents.

“A lot of them involved women in headscarves – in which hijabs were pulled off aggressively, kids targeted in schools, and some physically violent assaults,” she said.

CAIR quoted Maha Abdul Gawad, a US resident, as saying another woman pulled her headscarf off and said: “This is not allowed any more, so go hang yourself with it around your neck – not on your head.”

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The Southern Poverty Law Center also noted that following Trump’s election win, “the language, literature, and symbols of white nationalism have cropped up throughout the country”.

“Many fliers perpetuate long-debunked myths of white racial superiority and contain warnings against miscegenation. A handout found on many college campuses explained, ‘Why White Women Shouldn’t Date Black Men.’

“The distribution of Ku Klux Klan recruiting materials has also been reported around the country.”

Swastikas have also been drawn in schools, on people’s cars and garage doors. Many of these incidents also contain a reference to president-elect Trump, the report said.

In his November 23 interview with The New York Times, Trump claimed he had no idea why white supremacists – the so-called “alt right” – had been “energised” by his campaign.

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Source: Al Jazeera