This Week In Hate: Communities Healing from Violence

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In memory of the tragic losses in Louisville, KY and Pittsburgh, PA:

Maurice Stallard, 69
Vickie Lee Jones, 67
Joyce Fienberg, 75
Richard Gottfried, 65
Rose Mallinger, 97
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
Cecil Rosenthal, 59
David Rosenthal, 54
Bernice Simon, 84
Sylvan Simon, 86
Daniel Stein, 71
Melvin Wax, 88
Irvis Younger, 69

As we heal from a week of violence and dangerous political rhetoric, approaching the end of two years under this Administration, the total number of incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, South Asian, Arab, and Middle Eastern American communities has risen to 416. Since November 2016, there have been 88 physical assaults, 114 verbal/written assaults, and 89 incidents of property damage against our communities (See Figure 1).

In the month of October, SAALT logged a total of 3 incidents of hate violence and 1 incident of xenophobic political rhetoric. There are two significant trends in this month of hate: 1) an increase in xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at Muslim, Arab, and South Asian (MASA) political candidates and 2) continued targeting of houses of worship as sites of white supremacist hate violence.

With midterm elections next Tuesday November 6, it is no surprise that we have documented an increase in hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric targeting MASA political candidates. Three out of the four incidents of hate violence documented in October, targeted political candidates with anti-Muslim rhetoric.

  • On October 10, 2018, Duncan Hunter, Congressional candidate for CA-50, released a series of campaign fliers that tied opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar to terrorist organizations. Along with former Marine generals, Hunter claimed that Campa-Najjar would be a national security threat and would share classified information about U.S. military operations to terrorist organizations in the Middle East.
  • On October 10, 2018, Fahria Khan, a candidate running for school board in Fremont, was targeted with Islamophobic messages on social media. Khan said the Facebook posts, now deleted, called her a Muslim dictator who will make kids fast and a Muslim who Fremont does not need.
  • On October 15, 2018, Aisha Wahab, Hayward City Council Candidate, received Islamophobic emails, one with a subject line that said “Islam;” and others that asked, “Do you want to live by Sharia law?”
  • On October 19, 2018, a Colorado Springs Uber driver of Middle Eastern descent was driving Sean Scappaticci, 29, home when the passenger became threatening. Scappaticci threatened to kill the driver because he “hated all brown people.” Scappaticci told the driver he was a former Army Ranger and killed many victims’ families overseas. The driver stopped his car and began running away and Scappaticci started chasing his driver and said “he was going to beat him up.”

In a tragic series of events, white supremacist violence has intensified and openly divisive rhetoric has further fueled hate against Black and Jewish communities. On Thursday October 25, a white supremacist killed a Black woman and Black man at a grocery store in Louisville, Kentucky, after first attempting to enter a Black church. When an armed bystander confronted Bush he responded with “whites don’t kill whites.”

On Saturday October 27, a white supremacist opened fire inside the Tree of Life or L’Simcha Congregation in Pittsburgh, PA claiming 11 lives and injuring many more. This is the third documented incident of white supremacist violence targeting a community in a house of worship in the last six years. In 2015, a white supremacist shot and killed nine Black worshippers at an Episcopal church in Charleston. In 2012, a known white supremacist shot and killed six Sikh Americans at the Oak Creek gurdwara in Wisconsin.

The trend of increased hate violence against our communities is part of the continuum of our nation’s history committing Indigenous and Black genocide, enslavement, and disempowerment. These acts of hate stem from both a history and current climate of racism, xenophobia, and bigotry. We are witnessing individuals like Gregory Bush and Robert Bowers being emboldened and radicalized by white supremacist rhetoric and national policies.

As a result of years of advocacy by interfaith groups, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced this week a new hate crimes website that is designed to be a central resource for victims, advocacy groups, law enforcement, and media. The resources provided on this website include technical assistance, training materials, research reports, and stats related to hate crimes.

The events that occurred this past month remind us of why we continue to fight and take on hate and why resources like the DOJ Hate Crimes Website, while long overdue, are so crucial in maintaining the safety of our communities.

Written by

A national social justice org working on policy analysis/advocacy on issues affecting the South Asian community: immigration, post 9/11 backlash. www.saalt.org

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