The number of hate-motivated incidents recorded nationwide surged past 1,000 in the month since Donald Trump was elected president, though the outbreak appears to be subsiding.
Those were the findings released Friday by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the nonprofit civil rights advocacy group that monitors hate crimes and homegrown extremism. Even though the reports of such incidents have slowed since November, according to the center, the stories are “nonetheless as heartbreaking and infuriating as before.”
The 1,094 reports compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC, from Nov. 9 to Dec. 12 represent a rash of attacks that one monitor has described as unprecedented in her two decades at the center.
In perhaps the largest-scale incident, more than a dozen mosques and Islamic centers around the country received identical letters calling for a Muslim genocide and describing Muslims as “Children of Satan” and “a vile and filthy people.”
In several places, the report links the spate of incidents to the rhetoric of Trump’s campaign. And monitors also linked Trump’s emboldening of white supremacists directly to the rise in incidents at universities, listing nearly three dozen campuses where reported hate attacks have occurred.
“With white nationalist ‘alt-right’ figureheads like Richard Spencer and Milo Yiannopolous touring college campuses, the increased confidence that these groups are feeling following Trump’s victory, and the unprecedented press attention they are receiving, it isn’t surprising to see that nearly 74 percent of these incidents occurred on campuses, where the ‘movement’ hopes to build its numbers,” the SPLC report says.
So many assailants invoked Trump’s name in their attacks that the SPLC created a category specifically for Trump-related incidents. They land between “swastikas” and “white nationalist fliers” in terms of frequency.
For example, in a voicemail left at a Michigan church – and included in the online version of the SPLC report – an anonymous caller disparages gays and Mexicans, saying, “I hope Trump gets ya. Trump Trump Trump. Trump Trump Trump. Trump’s gonna get your asses out of here and throw you over the wall.”
In another incident, reported by a bystander, an apparently drunk white man accosted two headscarf-wearing women in a park, sending them running. The report says the man then described Muslims as subhuman and said, “President Trump got his work cut out for him.”
Trump has yet to forcefully reject such incidents, much less accept any responsibility for the example his anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim tone set for his supporters. Civil rights groups repeatedly have said Trump’s request for bias-motivated attackers to “stop it” simply wasn’t enough. Trump made that statement during a “60 Minutes” interview days after the election. He hasn’t held a news conference in more than four months.
There was no immediate reply to an email seeking comment from the Trump transition team.
The SPLC summary also said it had identified 26 incidents in which Trump supporters were the victims, not the perpetrators. It did not detail those attacks.
Overall, anti-immigrant incidents (315) were the most reported, followed by anti-black (221), anti-Muslim (112), and anti-LGBT (109), according to the SPLC report. The SPLC checks with authorities and makes other efforts to verify the reports, but acknowledges that much of the information is anecdotal.
Trump supporters have said the numbers are exaggerated or faked, pointing to a handful of recent cases in which “victims” of bias-related attacks later admitted to making up the stories.
The latest was 18-year-old New Yorker Yasmin Seweid, who lied about three drunken white men following her and chanting, “Trump!” as a cover story to tell her strict Muslim parents when she stayed out late with friends, according to news reports. She was charged with filing a false report and obstructing governmental administration.
The SPLC added a “false reports” category for 13 incidents that were made up or could not be verified; researchers removed the debunked reports from the totals. Still, the center stressed, that means just over 1 percent of the reported attacks were false – not enough to refute numbers that show hate-crime reports experienced an instantaneous uptick with Trump’s win.
“While it is almost certain that more false reports will be uncovered, and the SPLC will be quick to update our database, the right-wing narrative that this wave of incidents are all hoaxes simply doesn’t stand up to the numbers,” the SPLC report said.