October Hate Report: Take a Breath, There’s More Work Ahead
On November 7, people of color caught their breath as they received news that President Donald Trump would no longer office past January 2021; finally, after four years of increased and public attacks on immigrants, Black Americans, queer folks, and Muslims, we have a moment of respite.
But state sanctioned hate violence and xenophobia is far from gone as President-elect Joe Biden continues to engage with heads of states with known nationalist ties, ignoring any ties to Hindutva ideology. This month’s hate report — which, notably, has not seen a decrease or increase in hate violence — is evidence that communities of color will likely continue to face hate violence despite Biden’s election, if we do not move past representation and into real transformation.
As a community of South Asians, we must remain vigilant and critical, even as we celebrate Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s series of firsts. SAALT will continue to work with allies andn community members to enact change. We call on our community to look past representation and demand action: anyone who wants to truly undo white supremacist violence brought to the surface by Donald Trump, must also understand its connection to Islamophobia and Hindu nationalism, and stand with immigrants, Muslims, and Black Americans. These next four years will be a test of South Asian Americans’ abilities to demand justice and equity, without reinforcing American imperialism.
Since the end of September, SAALT tracked 14 incidents of hate violence aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern and Arab American communities:
- On October 5, a falsified social media profile made a series of hate-filled posts about Burleson Memorial Cemetery in Fort Worth, TX, after the city council discussed an expansion for the Cemetary, “which has an area with burial plots for Muslims that conform to Islmamic religious practices.” The perpetrator has not been identified.
- From September 4 to October 6, Diana Ploss and her followers set up camp at Town Hall in Winthrop, MA, “professing to be a pro-Trump group.” Residents of Winthrop have experienced “vulgarity, threats of violence, and hateful rhetoric against minorities” from Ploss and her posse, and have called the Council, with Mitch Gayns “urging concrete action rather than words”.
- On October 13, the Dar Uloom Islamic Center, in St. Paul, MO, was spray-painted by an unknown vandal. “There have been several acts of vandalism at the [mosque] in recent months,” but the perpetrator remains unidentified; this is the fourth known attack on the Center.
- Around October 18, the Shawnee Mission Islamic Center, in Shawnee, IN, found their sign vandalised with “a partly illegible message that included the word ‘Trump’ on the sign.” The perpetrator has not yet been identified.
- On October 18, Larry Jacobsen (a part-time employee at the University of Illinois) complained about President-elect Joe Biden’s anti-Islamophobic administration, posting, “The guys who flew planes into twin towers, the pentagon, and who behad people because they aren’t Muslim, thank you Joe.”
- On October 21, a Muslim student at Junction City High School in Junction City, KA was “told to remove her hijab by a hall monitor.” Melissa Sharp, the school’s principal, forced the student to write about the meaning of the hijab, but did not condemn the hall monitor.
- On October 26, a Sikh couple was verbally assaulted by GOP campaigners on their way to cast their ballots; the unnamed campaigners chanted at the Sikh couple, with one woman shouting through a bullhorn, “That’s why we need to build the wall higher.”
- On November 1, Fairmont, WV, televangelist preacher John Polis appeared on television and falsely stated that “a majority of mosques in the country are used for training troops for war, and said Islam is a danger to the country, because of teachings in the Quran.” He has been condemned by CAIR, who has also asked West Virginian faith leaders to repudiate Polis.
- On November 3, Dustin Arterburn, 26, of Wichita, KA, attacked a 53-year old Muslim man, “making racial comments and discriminating against (the victim’s) religion…The Wichita Eagle reports that “Arterburn was carrying anti-Muslim Charlie Hebdo posters and . . .had been distributing them at the Islamic Society of Wichita…A Muslim community leader said the suspect confronted him Friday while ‘displaying the distorted cartoon of our beloved prophet, slamming the Holy Quran, cursing with profanity, displaying anger, hostile threats against the peaceful religion of Islam.’”
- On November 3, a Muslim woman who was volunteering to register voters outside of Catonsville High School in Baltimore County, MD was verbally assaulted by an unidentified man, who shouted, “You know you’re wasting your breath” and “Trump is going to win!” at her.
- On November 4, Dr. Michael Robles was found to have made comments on “the Facebook page of Jihad Watch, a blog run by anti-Muslim writer Robert Spencer.”
- On November 4, Peter Sysak, who is the president of the Cuesta College Board of Trustees in San Luis Obispo, CA, was found to have posted on his Facebook post in support of known white supremacists, the Proud Boys. One of his posts read, “We live in a society where homosexuals lecture us on morals, transvestites lecture us on human biology, baby killers lecture us on human rights and socialists lecture us on economics.” Though the community is calling for Sysak to be removed from the board — as he explicitly violated its code of ethics, some community members, “such as chemistry professor Baxley, said they want Sysak to remain on the board until his term finishes in 2022.”
- On November 6, a pair of assailants attacked Khaled Aly, his wife Neamat Taha and their two children, yelling “We are in America” at them, before beating Aly up. Aly was hospitalized for three days.
- On November 9, the University of Illionis responded to students’ concerns about the aforementioned staff member, Larry Jacobsen, and his Islamophobic rhetoric. However, the University condemned Islamophobia, but did not take any action to protect its Muslim students. According to UI students, “the university has responded in a very inadequate way, regarding suicides on campus, issues regarding racism and Islamophobia, Palestinian rights on campus, conflating anti-semitism with anti-zionism, and basically all of the -isms and the hatred that goes towards people.”
SAALT also recorded 11 incidents of xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric made by public officials since September 30, 2020.
- On October 1, President Donald Trump “unleashed a xenophobic attack on Representative Ilhan Omar” at a rally in MN, following the first presidential debate, where he refused to condemn the Proud Boys who are known white supremacists.
- On October 6, the Seminole County Republican Party of Florida endorsed Senate candidate, Jason Brodeur, with an ad from a non-profit organization that “warns of the ‘clear and present danger of violent, coercive Islam’” and is “dedicated to defending…against the kinetic and cultural onslaught of Shariah Islam.” The group has been designated an anti-Muslim hate group by a number of allies, including the Southern Poverty Law Center and CAIR.
- On October 8, Sanat Sethy, a mayoral candidate for San Ramon, CA, falsely accused CAIR as being anti-Semitic and refused to attend CAIR’s forum. CAIR in return has condemned Sethy.
- On October 8, Rep. Greg Murphy (R-N.C.) tweeted “@KamalaHarris is a walking disaster…she was only picked for her color and her race…is that how we pick our leaders now in America??” He was widely condemned, including by state Democrats and allies at CAIR.
- On October 15, Kelly Loeffler announced that she would hold a public endorsement with GOP House nominee Marjorie Taylor Greene, who backs QAnon and is backed by QAnon. “Green has also expressed anti-Semitic, racist, and Islamophobic views [as seen in videos] obtained by Politico in June [showing her arguing that Muslim people do not ‘belong in our government,’ equating anti-racism protesters with Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members, claiming there is no systemic racism in the United States because ‘slavery is over,’ and suggesting that Black people are ‘lazy’ and make ‘bad choices.’”
- On October 16, David Perdue, a Republican Senator from Georgia, mocked Vice Presidential Nominee Kamala Harris’s first name “in a base attempt to appeal to President Trump’s supporters.” Though many have condemned Perdue, he refuses to apologize.
- On October 20, Sinclair Broadcasting Group host Sharyl Attkisson interviewed Jerry Kammer, who is affiliated with the anti-immigration extremist group, Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). The interview was aired on over 160 news stations, but failed to disclose Kammer’s affiliation, allowing him “to whitewash his organization’s nativist views by describing himself as a ‘moderate liberal’ and introducing him as a journalist. She never challenged any of his false or misleading claims about immigration.” Allies at the Southern Poverty Law Center officially declared CIS an anti-immigrant hate group in 2016, but there hasn’t been widespread denouncement.
- As late as October 22, the 54-year old Republican candidate for Indiana’s House District 93, John Jacob, had made a number of Islamophobic and xenophobic posts on his Facebook page, including ones that stated that “the Islamic faith cannot coexist in the United States, Muslims are traitors who should be deported, and the Roman Catholic Church is a cult and of Satan, its parishioners should repent and leave the church, and the pope is an anti-Christ.”
- On October 31, President Donald Trump and the White House Press released “a proclamation observing November 1st as the ‘National Day of Remembrance for Americans Killed by Illegal Aliens’,” an action that is widely viewed as part of Trump’s broader crusade to “demonize immigrants and foreign asylum seekers.” The proclamation has been widely condemned.
- On November 4, Islamophobic candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene was elected to serve Georgia’s 14th congressional district, “becoming the first person to serve in the US House to have openly supported the QAnon conspiracy…[which has] also peddled the theory that a secret plan was orchestrated by American Muslims to use coronavirus restrictions as a means of bringing Sharia law into the country.”
Since September 26, 2020, SAALT tracked 5 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 October 4, an unidentified “hateful stranger” verbally assaulted a forty-year old Asian man with anti-Asian slurs, before punching and choking him, in the Chelsea district of New York City. Several witnesses recorded the event and reported it, but the perpetrator has not been identified.
- On October 9, an “offensive individual” subjected Haiyan Hu, a Chinese woman, and her son to racist slurs, telling them “to ‘go home’ during their visit to the Bennington Battle Monument” in Vermont. Members of the Bennington Select Board wrote to Hu condemning the act on behalf of the town.
- On October 15, Rudy Giuliani appeared in a video in which he “started affecting a stereotypical Chinese accent while telling [his assistant, Jayne Zirkle] that she’s ‘going to be the most famous model in China’.” Giuliani is yet to apologize.
- On November 3, voters casting their ballots at Morey School and Lowell High School in Lowell, MA, were verbally assaulted by unnamed people shouting anti-Asian slurs. Locals reported the incident, which has now been classified as voter intimidation.
- On November 10, Yunhan Zhang, the owner of Valley Brook Tea in Dupont Circle, D.C., was attacked by an unidentified man, who shouted “COVID-19” before spraying Zhang with pepper-spray.
Inclusive of the incidents in this monthly summary, SAALT and our partners have tracked 348 incidents of xenophobic or Islamophobic rhetoric, and 733 incidents of hate violence targeting South Asians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, MIddle Eastern Americans, Arab Americans and those racialized as such since November 2015.