July Hate Report: Hate and Election Cycles
This time, four years ago, the U.S. was in the heat of the election cycle. The Trump campaign was regularly using Islamophobic and xenophobic rhetoric to promise discriminatory policies like the Muslim Ban and a border wall. We documented a dramatic rise in hate violence targeting Muslims and those perceived as Muslims during and after the 2016 election.
And this election cycle, we are just as vigilant. This week, presidential candidate Joe Biden announced his pick for Vice President: Senator Kamala Harris. As a woman of Jamaican and South Asian heritage (see our take on this in this NBC article here) joins the ticket, we can unfortunately also expect the Trump Administration will continue to join in more hate speech — drumming up support by appealing to xenophobic, racist, and Islamophic stereotypes.
This week also marks: one year since the tragic shooting in an El Paso Walmart; three years since the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, which led to the death of anti-racist protestor Heather Heyer; four years since the brutal and hateful killing of Khalid Jabara in Tulsa; and eight years since the attack on the Oak Creek Gurdwara in Wisconsin. On the anniversaries of these white supremacy fueled murders, Trump’s Administration and tech giants continue to show that they’d rather protect racists and bigots than people of color in both digital and physical spaces.
As November approaches, we urge community members to assess, engage, and push candidates on how strongly they’ve stood up to white supremacy in all it’s manifestions: Islamophobic, xenophobic and racist rhetoric; hate violence and digital security; police and state violence; transnational issues like Hindu nationalism; indefinite detention and the separation of immigrant families; and other inherently discriminatory policies, like the Musim Ban.
In the month of July, SAALT tracked 11 incidents of hate violence targeting Muslims and those racialized as Muslim, as well as South Asian Americans and other immigrant or diasporic communities:
- On July 1, a Muslim woman named Aishah asked for a drink at a Starbucks in St. Paul, Minnesota. Instead of writing Aishah’s name on her drink, the Starbucks employee instead wrote “ISIS” — which the supervisor allegedly said “sometimes happens with customers’ names.”
- On July 2, two Texas-based LGBTQ+ Facebook groups made changes to their group, demanding prospective members agree with their principles. LGBT Houston posted: “We do NOT support BLM do you?” and “BLM planning to burn our church down & end Christianity.” LBGT San Antonio asked “whether racial justice protesters will try to tear down the Statue of Liberty and whether Black lives matter more than the lives of Asians or ‘the unborn’.”
- On July 2, the University of Arizona Police Department found “hate messages being posted on light poles, buildings and electrical boxes…that displayed threatening statements and promoted white supremacy” at the intersections of East Second Street and Park Avenue in Tucson. The perpetrator has not been identified.
- From July 4 to July 6, the Albuquerque, New Mexico home of Swapna Sule, her husband, and her son was attacked by unidentified perpetrators who threw stones through their backyard door. The attacks happened repeatedly throughout the weekend.
- On July 4, Rachel Ruit attacked a Muslim woman for wearing a hijab in Asheville, North Carolina. She has been booked by the APD.
- On July 4, Nicole Anderson (42) and David Nelson (53) defaced a Black Lives Matter Mural in California, “while cursing at bystanders and uttering pro-Trump slogans has been charged with a hate crime, police announced on Tuesday… [Nelson was recorded] declaring, ‘This is not happening in my town!’”
- Before the morning of July 11, Al Ihsaan Islamic Center in Warren, Michigan was vandalized; “members of the [Center] found broken windows and a hammer when they arrived.” The perpetrators have not been identified, despite numerous calls for the vandalism to be investigated as a hate crime.
- On July 17, a number of online platform users verbally harassed Suud Olat, a candidate for the Minneapolis City Council in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Since he announced his candidacy, “Olat has been the target of online abuse and anti-Muslim posts.”
- Between July 18 and July 19, a Muslim teenager’s car, parked in Wheeling Island, West Virginia, was vandalized and destroyed “with racial slurs and other profanity scratched into the paint of the car, along with broken side mirrors and flattened tires.”
- On July 19, an elderly white man called the cops on Paul Joseph, Karen Williams, their two sons, and Joseph’s 73-year old mother while they vacationed in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The white man told the police that the people next door “weren’t supposed to be there”, to which the police responded by investigating Joseph and Williams’ rental house. Joseph said, “To demand to see your rental agreement is like asking a driver you’ve pulled over to produce his passport.” The Joseph-Williams family is mixed race; Joseph’s mother is from Kerala.
- On July 25, an unknown individual vandalized Amit Pal Saini’s car in Oviedo, Florida. The perpetrator wrote the words “Sikh F*** U”.
SAALT also recorded 2 incidents of xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric since July 1, 2020.
- On July 14, Randy Barli, Republican Party nominee in the 49th Legislative District, was found to have made a series of anti-Muslim, anti-Black posts on his Facebook over the course of two months: “One post is a photo of a large group of black-veiled women labeled ‘America in 2045’ and showed a blue-eyed, blonde woman at the center asking, ‘Grandpa, why didn’t you stop them?’ Another post addressed to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi expresses outrage at U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat who is a Muslim, for taking the oath of office on a copy of the Koran. A quotation purported to be from Hilary Clinton, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate reads, ‘If I’m indicted, I’ll take half of D.C. with me.’ It bears the label ‘false’ and carries a disclaimer that independent fact-checking determined there is no evidence ‘Clinton ever said or wrote this.’”
- On July 30, Army Brigadier General Anthony Tata’s confirmation hearing was cancelled as Islamophobic remarks of his came to light. “According to media reports, Tata had posted tweets in 2018 calling Islam the ‘most oppressive violent religion I know of’, and he called former President Barack Obama a ‘terrorist leader’...the tweets were later taken down.”
Since June 1, 2020, SAALT tracked 6 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 COVID-related hate violence, but these details will not be reported in SAALT’s Monthly Hate Reports.
- On July 4, a viral video showed Michael Lofthouse verbally assaulting an Asian American family, “who were out celebrating a birthday in Carmel, California…‘Trump’s going to f — you,’ he said [among other racially discriminatory comments] in the video. ‘You f — ers need to leave … f — ing Asian piece of s — .’” He has since stepped down from his position as CEO of his company, Solid8.
- On July 14, an 89-year old Asian woman was brutally assaulted by two still unidentified men who “slapped [the woman] in the face, shortly after she left her Bensonhurst home, and moments later, her shirt was lit on fire by a match or a lighter…The victim raised her hair and rubbed her back on a nearby wall to put out the flames, she told ABC7, preventing her from suffering serious injuries.” This incident is still not being investigated as a hate crime, despite numerous local and national calls.
- On July 14, 34-year-old Andre Futrell attacked a Korean man in San Francisco, California; Futrell “began to argue with him and made references to Okinawa and Hiroshima, saying he would “bomb him like Pearl Harbor,” according to the affidavit…The victim then told Futrell he was actually Korean, not Japanese…Futrell knocked his cellphone to the ground, and got him in a “guillotine” choke hold…A video taken of the incident, according to the affidavit, shows the two men fall to the ground, after which Futrell gets up and kicks the other man in the rib cage. He then punches the man in the face while the man is still on the ground.”
- On July 20, a transit driver was attacked by three individuals who “not only beat [him] with a half-size baseball bat, but also spit on him, punched him twice in the face, and amidst anti-Asian slurs, accused him of having coronavirus because [he] is Asian.” The Transport Workers Union Local 250 is investigating the incident.
- On July 20, an unidentified man spat on a 30-year-old Asian woman aboard the northbound 5 to South Bronx, in New York, NY. The incident is being investigated.
- On July 31, social media posts revealed that Nick Freitas, a current Virginia delegate who is also running for office in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, had been selling masks with the words “COVID-19: Made in China.” It is still unsure whether Freitas will win a seat to represent the District.
Inclusive of the incidents in this monthly summary, SAALT and our partners have tracked 323 incidents of xenophobic or Islamophobic rhetoric, and 679 incidents of hate violence targeting Muslims and Asian Americans, and those perceived as Muslim or Asian American, since November 2015.