August & September Hate Report: Who does the President protect?
It’s less than two weeks away from Election Day, and racist rhetoric from public officials and hate violence continues to impact communities all over the country.
From the local level to the federal level, candidates from Laura Loomer to Marjorie Taylor Green who have public track records filled with Islamophobic remarks are winning the praises of President Trump. The president himself, in the first presidential debate of the election, won the admiration of white supremacist groups after he failed to openly denounce white supremacy, instead calling on known hate group, the Proud Boys, to “stand back and stand by.”
Institutionalized racism also continues to play out in the mainstream media. In September, as media outlets and officials marked the 19 year anniversary of 9/11, we saw the diminishment of hate violence survivor experiences by mainstream media figure and NYT columnist Paul Krugman. Krugman discounted survivors of post-9/11 backlash and hate crimes with a Tweet that falsely said “there wasn’t a mass outbreak of anti-Muslim sentiment and violence,” a statement which SAALT’s research directly contradicts.
Nearly every part of the country has seen incidents of hate violence: Muslim women wearing hijabs continue to be harrassed and assaulted; bigots have been repeatedly attacking their neighbors, either for their immigration status or for their support of Black Lives Matter; and white supremacists are vandalizing properties across the country with racist rhetoric and imagery.
In the months of August and September, SAALT tracked 20 incidents of hate violence aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern and Arab American communities:
- On August 6, “five members of a Senagalese-American Muslim family died in a house fire” in Denver, CO. The incident is being investigated for its potential connections to Islamophobic ideology.
- Also on August 6, the Delaware Department of Services of Children, Youth, and Their Families forced Madinah Brown, Shakeya Thomas, and Tia Mays — who “wore their Islamic headscarves when they were interviewed and during orientation and training for their jobs as youth rehabilitation counselors” — to remove their religious head coverings at work.
- On August 7, in Bloomington, IN, two unidentified boys, likely ages 13 and 16, physically assaulted Imam Mohammed Mukhtar on his way to final prayers at Bloomington Dar al-Farooq Mosque. Imam Mukhtar was hospitalized, “where he suffered non-life-threatening injuries.” Since the attack, community members have rallied to support Imam Mukhtar and “defend his right to practice Islam in peace.”
- On August 7, a series of white supremacist expressions were found outside houses in Cedar Rapids, IO. The letters were found in “resealable plastic bags” and “each bag had a letter that included a fascist symbol and ‘white pride’ verbiage.”
- On August 9, Richard Gordon of Barrington, RI, attacked his neighbor, Bahram Pahlavi, shouting racial slurs and knocking Pahlavi off his feet, when he was hammering a property sign into the ground.
- On August 13, Somala Harrati reported that an unidentified group of men threw urine on her, spat on her, and called her “Bin Laden” at a train station in New York. 68% of Muslim women in the U.S. say they have been subjected to religious discrimination, according to the news report.
- On August 14, Heidi Anderson attacked Dr. Mushir Hassan, a boardmember of the Elmbrook School District, stating that he “did not practice in infectious disease” before making extensive bigoted comments about Islam. The Elmbrook School District has stood with Dr. Hassan, calling the remarks “targeted and defamatory” and “beyond the boundaries of acceptable conduct.”
- On August 14, in Silver Spring, MD, managers and coworkers at a McDonald’s franchisee (Susdewitt Managment LLC) harassed Diamond Powell for her conversion to Islam and for wearing a hijab. “A manager told her to ‘take that hoodie off’ her head while another manager told her, ‘You don’t have to wait for God to wake up for you to pray.’”
- On August 20, Emilio Lopez assaulted Tarek Elsayed with a baseball bat, calling him “a racial epithet and telling him to ‘go back to your country,’” before slashing the tires of his car. He then threatened to kill Elsayed and his friends.
- On August 25, the Dar Uloom Islamic Center in St. Paul, MO, was once again vandalized.
- On August 26, a 38-year old woman attacked a man of Middle Eastern descent in his hometown of Lincoln, NE, telling him “that he couldn’t watch people racing in the street because he wasn’t a white American.”
- On August 31, a note reading “RETURN BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY: A**holes, American citizens in the IT industry and other professional fields have lost their jobs to many Indians and Chinese. We asked you to leave the country without further delay. We will have no choice but to shoot mercilessly at work place, in community, on pool or on playground” was sent to at least five Muslim families in Irving, TX. The perpetrators have not yet been identified.
- On September 1, an unnamed man in his forties was arrested for setting fire to Bilal Islamic Community Center in Kent, WA. Though he was charged “with arson, regarding the intentional fire that was started at the unoccupied building”, the police have stated that they are keeping him in custody on “unrelated” charges.
- On September 11, John G. Englert of Madison, WI, was charged for spraying six buildings “with slogans that included ‘AB Aryan Brotherhood’ and ‘ABWLM White Lives Matter Most’”. Englert had previously been charged on similar accounts of vandalism and hate speech.
- On September 17, Nusaiba Mubarak, 26, was in line at a police commission meeting when LAPD officers aggressively manhandled her, pushed her against a wall, handcuffed her, shoved her into another room and stripped her of her hijab.
- On September 18, Farrukh Abbas was walking in his apartment complex in Upper Merion, PA, when he he was threatened by a dog and its owner, who went on an expletive filled racist rant that called Abbas a “dot-head” before telling him to go back to his country and hitting him with his fists.
- On September 21, a referee at a Valor College Prep volleyball game in Nashville, TN, refused to let Najah Aqeel play in the game, “saying her hijab broke National Federation of State High School Associations rules,” though it did not.
- On September 22, an unidentified resident of Columbus, OH, attacked a Somali American Muslim woman, pulling up “beside her family in their car, [turning] his fingers into a gun and [pulling] the trigger.”
- On September 23, the Loyal White Knights of the KKK posted two-page letters throughout Erie County, NY, specifically targeting homes that had Biden/Harris signs on their lawn. “The letter is not personally addressed to anyone, but begins with the words ‘Joe Biden represents the Democrat Party. The Democrat Party represents baby butchers, communists, admitted BLM ‘queers’, and domestic terrorists.” The letter was signed by the hate group but they have not yet been apprehended.
- On September 26, unidentified white men harassed Qorsho Hassan in Duluth, MN, from their truck, “shouting racial insults and ‘Make America great’” as well as chanting “white power” and “four more years.”
SAALT also recorded 13 incidents of xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric made by public officials since August 1, 2020.
- On August 5, President Trump nominated Retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor to be U.S. ambassador to Germany. Macgregor has a history of racist remarks, including an incident in 2018 when he “disparaged Muslim refugees fleeing to Europe as ‘invaders’”; an incident in 2016, when he “said on a radio show that Muslim refugees are ‘not comming to assimilate and become part of Europe’ but come ‘with the goal of eventually turning Eorope into an Islamic State”; and an incident in 2015, when he appeared on ABC News and expressed similar statements.
- On August 11, Marjorie Taylor Green — a GOP candidate in Georgia — won the primary. Politico had unearthed videos of her earlier this summer that showed a track record for making racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic comments.
- On August 12, Newsweek published an op-ed by Dr. John Eastmen which questioned Sen. Kamala Harris and her ability to serve as a president by pointing to her immigrant background. Newsweek has since apologized.
- On August 12, President Donald Trump congratulated Marjorie Taylor Green, despite the fact that she publicly “faced criticism over anti-Muslim rhetoric and her belief in the far-right QAnon conspiracy,” and calling her “a future Republican star.”
- On August 16, the NYPD endorsed Donald Trump for re-election, despite his well-known record of racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and bigotry.
- On August 18, President Donald Trump congratulated Laura Loomer, a candidate who has a history of making Islamophobic comments (she once tweeted to ride-share companies that she “never wants to support another Islamic immigrant driver”) for winning a seat in the Florida House.
- On August 19, CAIR called for an investigation into council member Tommy Newell of Berkeley County who had posted a photo of himself on Facebook of himself and others “playing terrorist” for a training exercise.
- On August 25, Jennifer Camahan, the Chairwoman of the Republican Party of Minnesota, stated that she did not find “the president’s use of the terms ‘China Virus’, ‘Wuhan Virus’, or ‘Kung Flu’” to be offensive. A number of APIA allies have demanded action against her.
- On August 31, President Donald Trump applauded Colonel Douglas Macgregor for his Islamophobic claims against Muslim refugees. Democrats are “calling on the White House to immediately pull retired Col’s nominantion for ambassoador to Germany after his past racist, xenophobic, and inflamatory remarks were uncovered.”
- On September 14, President Donald Trump retweeted a post “about ‘radicalized’ Somalis in Minnesota,” which he claimed was “helping Minnesota greatly.”
- On September 21, Kathleen Angelos, a candidate for Scottsdale Unified School District’s Governing Board in Arizona, was found to have “[written] or shared multiple posts on Facebook…calling for the U.S. to ban Islam and claiming Muslim citizens cannot legally hold public office.”
- On September 23, President Donald Trump attacked Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, claiming that she “is not part of our country.”
- On September 30, in the first presidential debate of the election season, President Donald Trump refused to condemn white supremacists, instead calling on known hate group, the Proud Boys, to “stand back and stand by” — a comment that the white supremacists welcomed and celebrated.
Since June 1, 2020, SAALT tracked 12 publicly-reported incidents of hate violence and rhetoric targeting Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander individuals and communities. Our AAPI allies and SAALT continue to receive sensitive first-hand accounts of coronavirus-related hate violence, but these details will not be reported in SAALT’s Monthly Hate Reports.
- On August 14, an unidentified man yelled at Pei Jung Lee for recording his attack on another passenger of the A train at Columbus Circle in New York City, “telling her to go back to her country and that she was the reason for ‘kung flu’.”
- On August 15, a woman threw water at Jing Chen and her 12 year old daughter, calling Chen “a Chinese b****” before punching her in the face.
- On August 24, Professor Joel Poor, who teaches in Columbia, MI, asked his students “if anyone was from outside the U.S.” When a student from Wuhan responded, Poor said, “Let me get my mask on.” Poor has since been relieved of his teaching duties, but it is unclear whether the academic institution still pays him.
- On August 25, Syracuse University professor, Jon Zubieta, was placed on leave after “referring to the novel coronavirus as the ‘Wuhan flu’ on his course syllabus. The professor also called the virus the ‘Chinese Communist Party Virus’.” Though he is on administrative leave, the University will not say whether they are paying Zubieta.
- On August 29, an unidentified man attacked a couple, Junie and Minh, asking them, “What are you doing in this country?” in Milpitas, CA. City leaders have responded and called the incident unacceptable.
- On September 2, an unidentified man “shouted anti-Asian slurs at a 29-year-old man and his female companion” while they biked in the Flatiron District of New York City.
- On September 8, a white woman verbally assaulted Alex Wong, who said that “harmless art made by children” in their neighborhood “looked like sh**.” She then called Wong a “song of a b****” before asking to speak to his wife who is white; “at one point, she says, ‘You have slanted eyes and I talked to a…” before Wong interrupted her.
- On September 11, Kyle K. Christiansen of Daytona Beach was charged with a hate crime after “[scrawling] slurs against Asians on two vehicles belonging to his dentist’s family in New Smyrna Beach.” He was charged with felony vandalism.
- On September 15, Michael Turner, 34, attacked an elderly Asian woman “in the 100 block of Turk Street” in San Francisco, California.
- On September 17, Adjunct Professor John Ucker, who teaches at the University of Cincinnati, responded to a student’s email about his girlfriend’s coronavirus infection with the statement, “For students testing positive for the chinese (sic) virus, I will give no grade.”
- On September 25, Michael Turner, the same man who attacked an Asian woman on September 15, attacked another elderly Asian woman. He has seen been arrested on “suspicion of elder abuse, aggravated assault and battery.”
- On September 26, a number of bigots left hateful and threatening messages at Representative Grace Meng’s office, with one trying to “diminish Meng’s stance against anti-Asian sentiment as ‘baloney’.” Representative Meng also posted a video documenting these calls to her Twitter account, including calls that used the terms “Chinese virus” and “kung flu”.
Inclusive of the incidents in this monthly summary, SAALT and our partners have tracked 337 incidents of xenophobic or Islamophobic rhetoric, and 714 incidents of hate violence targeting Muslims and Asian Americans, and those perceived as Muslim or Asian American, since November 2015.