This Week in Hate: Regional trends of hate crimes 19 months post election
In the past month SAALT has documented eight incidents of hate violence and three incidents of xenophobic political rhetoric targeting Muslims, perceived Muslims, Indian, and Sikh Americans and their places of worship. Of the ten incidents of hate violence, five were verbal/written threats, one physical assault, and four cases of property damage. Since the 2016 presidential election on November 8, 2016, SAALT has documented a total of 381 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric targeting our communities (see Figure 1).
Similar to trends analyzed in our 2018 report “Communities on Fire,” verbal and written threats continue to be the most common category of hate violence against our communities.
- On June 2, 2018 in Sacramento, California, Manfred Schield posted a video calling the Sikh flag a “piece of sh*t” and said that Sikhs are not peace-loving people, interchanging Muslims and Sikhs during his tirade.
- On June 12, 2018 in Jersey City, New Jersey, a man harassed a group of Muslim high school seniors calling them “traitors to the country.”
- On May 26, 2018, a Columbia, Missouri man, who identified himself as a “former” Nazi, threw objects out of his car in the direction of a Muslim woman who was driving along beside him. He then shouted “are you a freaking Islamic,” referring to her hijab and mocked the Muslim greeting of peace “as-salaamu alaykum”.
- On June 17, 2018, a Denver landlord, Katina Gatchis, refused to sublet a vacant restaurant space to Rashad Khan, a Bengali Muslim restaurateur. Cell phone audio recordings between the current tenant, Craig Caldwell, and Gatchis reveal her discrimination, “So if I get anybody, as long as it’s not a Muslim, I would be okay?” Caldwell asks. “Yes, No Muslims, especially this guy,” says the other person, in the recording. “(I need a) good American person, like you and me.”
- Esha Rajendran of Austin, Texas, who identifies as Indian American, found multiple Islamophobic and anti-immigrant fliers on her car on June 4, 2018.
Three out of the eight recent incidents of hate violence occurred in the South:
Late night May 23, 2018, John Jay Smith approached two Arab men at a St. Augustine, Florida McDonalds and yelled “get out of my country you do not deserve to eat here” while holding a switchblade and an automatic knife. Smith then stuck his arm inside of their vehicle and tried to use a stun gun on one of the men.
More recently in Austin, Texas, Esha Rajendran, who identifies as Indian-American, found an Islamophobic and anti-immigrant flier on her car. The following day, she found another flier with a graphic image of a violent act against a Pakistani woman with an anti-immigrant message on it.
On May 19, 2018, the Al Shareef Masjid in Houston, Texas was found covered with derogatory words and urine was left on the carpet. Burglars also stole money from donation boxes.
The rise in the number of hate incidents is regionally relevant (see Figure 2).
We use the U.S. Census definition to classify the South, West, Northeast, and Midwest regions of the U.S. Since November 8, 2016, the West continues to lead with 76 incidents, which makes up 28% of the total incidents occurring across the U.S. The South had 70 incidents making up 26% of total incidents. The East followed with 66 incidents or 24% of total incidents. The Midwest came in last with 60 incidents of hate violence or 22%. This could be due to reporting discrepancies among regions and does not necessarily signal that one region of the country is experiencing a disproportionately higher or lower rate of hate incidents than others.
As we witness the inhumane justification of violence and abuse against immigrant children and their families, it is no surprise that xenophobic political rhetoric comes from those who hold the highest elected and appointed positions of influence in state, local, and federal government.
Between May 18 and July 6, three incidents of xenophobic political rhetoric came from white politicians in the South and one incident was reported in the midwest.
On May 14 and May 26, Mayor Hardy King of Irmo, South Carolina re-posted a photo that read “Liberals are saying the American flag is offensive to Muslims. Share if you don’t give a damn.”
On June 4, 2018 he shared a photo blaming Muslims for a series of shootings and bombings.
On May 30, 2018 Donald McBath, a family law attorney running for a circuit judgeship in Tampa Bay, Florida , tweeted “never trust a Muslim and “Muslims are deranged!!!!”
In a Brietbart interview posted June 22, 2018 Representative of Iowa’s 4th District, Steve King, commented on the Somali Muslim community working at pork processing plants in Iowa saying, “I don’t want people doing my pork that won’t eat it, let alone hope I go to hell for eating pork chops.”
Perpetrators of hate violence and rhetoric have been emboldened to use their actions and words as tools to reinforce white supremacy and create a climate of constant fear for our communities but we must continue to #TakeOnHate.