May Hate Report:
Communities Protecting Themselves & Each Other
Policing State and Interpersonal Violence
On Monday, May 25th, 2020, George Floyd became the 1,014th person to be murdered by the U.S. police force over the last year.
While we focus on hate violence targeting South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Arab, and Middle Eastern communities, we must not do so in absence of the larger context of Black communities being the overwhelming target of all hate violence and state violence in the U.S. And, we cannot exceptionalize the violence aimed at our communities. As South Asians, we must acknowledge, confront, and dismantle anti-Blackness in our own communities and decrease our reliance on the racist criminal justice system. It is important to understand that our communities cannot do so without confronting and combating many of the roots of anti-Blackness embedded within structures of casteisim, religious discrimination, and colorism.
Since April 21, 2020, SAALT has tracked 8 incidents of hate violence targeting Muslims and those racialized as Muslim:
- On April 21, a man from Nutley, New Jersey verbally assaulted a Muslim woman and her son at a Carvel ice cream shop in Essex County, shouting, “You’re a terrorist, I’m going to kill you…Go back to your country”. He then followed the family in his car and intentionally “crashed into the driver’s side of the [Muslim woman’s] vehicle twice. He attempted to hit the car a third time while she remained parked at a stop sign.”
- On April 29, Lakhwant Singh, a Sikh man from Lakewood, CO, was physically and verbally assaulted by Eric Breeman. Singh sustained life-threatening injuries, and “now needs full time care and has been moved to a rehabilitation facility.”
- On May 9, “questions implying that terrorism is encouraged under the Islamic faith…appeared on a class quiz” at the Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. SCC has since apologized, but the individual(s) responsible for the question have not been identified.
- On May 11, the Tawfiq Islamic Center in Minneapolis was set on fire. Our allies at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) have called for an investigation for a “possible bias motive”.
- On May 13, residents of Muscatine, Iowa, found “messages calling for the expulsion of immigrants because ‘they can’t make white babies’” in a free publication, “used to add enough weight for the single-page fliers to easily be tossed into people’s yards.” The perpetrators have not been identified.
- On May 15, William Greda, a landlord in Elizabeth, NJ, stood for trial a second time, on the same charges “that he refused to rent an apartment to a Muslim woman.” His first trial was dismissed when Greda’s defense attorney “improperly questioned the Muslim woman about her religious beliefs…by asking her about references to ‘infidels’ in the Quran and Islamic politics.”
- On May 23rd, San Leandro, CA resident Nancy Arechiga was photographed posting xenophobic flyers, “demanding that ‘if you are a woman or man and was born in other country, return, go back to your land immediately, fast, with urgency.’” Arechiga has been convicted.
- On May 24 — the night of Eid-ul-Fitr — a masjid in Indianapolis, IN was ambushed with bullets during a community gathering. No community members were harmed, but the attack is being investigated as a hate crime.
SAALT has recorded 3 incidents of xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric since May 1, 2020.
- On May 12, the Howard County Board of Education learned that “a candidate for [the Board] shared and publicly posted extremely offensive rhetoric that was not only anti-Muslim, but also racist and misogynistic over the course of the last five years.” The candidate, Gian Alfeo, withdrew from the race, but his name has already been printed on, and remains on ballots for the June 2 primary election.
- On May 30, “the Trump administration made an ironic choice to fill the post of religious freedom adviser at the U.S. Agency for International Development: a man who has stated publicly that he considers Muslims to be followers of a “barbaric cult” and posted articles on social media endorsing the Chinese government’s crackdown on their Uighur Muslim minority. The appointee to the USAID position is Mark Kevin Lloyd.” Despite national demands to remove Lloyd from his position, he remains at the USAID.
- As of June 3, Sheriff Harry Young, who is an elected official in Atlanta, GA, has made numerous posts calling for the hanging of protestors involved in the past week’s actions; Young also has a deep history of Islamophobia, racism, and xenophobia, as repeatedly demonstrated on his social media accounts. SAALT received an account from a community member, who stated, “Journalists are also in many ways helping spread these views by allowing him to defend his “traitors” post with hate speech against Muslims, which in turn, then validates him. Local Democrats are afraid to push on this because, in many ways, there is support for views and may garner more support for his defense. I can’t abide by this logic. This speech is inexcusable from any elected official, which is why I’ve forwarded this to multiple news venues. I am also genuinely shocked to see that no reporter has quoted CAIR, including the AJC.”
Since May 1, 2020, SAALT has tracked 4 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; these details will not be reported in SAALT’s Monthly Hate Reports.
- On May 2, residents in Hoboken, NJ reported “criminal mischief on the ground in front of the garage doors…[where] they found the following anti-Asian hate speech: ‘1 AMOR = 3 C***** USA #1 C***** DIE’.” The suspect has been described as a “light-skinned male, bald, with a medium build, wearing dark-colored clothing and dark shoes” but remains unidentified otherwise.
- On May 3, a 30-year old Asian man was harassed in New York City while “on board a northbound 4 train near 33rd Street and 59th Avenue in Midtown, Manhattan.” The suspect remains unidentified, but assaulted the Asian man with anti-Asian remarks before trying to “remove him from the train”. The 30-year old Asian man did not sustain any physical injuries.
- On May 19, a “57-year old…man admitted to verbally harassing Asian Americans in [a Stevens Point, WI grocery store], drawing a false connection between the virus’s origin in China and their presence in the community.” It has been “recommended” that the man is charged with disorderly conduct and hate crime enhancement.
- On May 20, David C. Altomare harassed several Asian individuals in Seattle, WA. In one of the assaults, he “approached the victim’s driver side window, and asked, ‘Where are you from…where is your ID?’” before taking photos of her car. Altomare also accosted a man and woman in their car, where he “screamed at them aggressively…spit into the male victim’s face, striking his cheek…[and] continued to yell at the victim, ‘Where are you from?’.”
Inclusive of the incidents in this monthly summary, SAALT and our partners have tracked 317 incidents of xenophobic or Islamophobic rhetoric, and 644 incidents of hate violence targeting Muslims and Asian Americans, and those perceived as Muslim or Asian American, since 2015.