The Hate After Trump’s Election: Swastikas, Deportation Threats, and Racist Graffiti
In the chaotic wake of Donald Trump’s election, many Americans fear a surge in hate acts based on race or religion.
Trump, who campaigned on an anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant platform, managed to mobilize a uniquely hateful base, garnering the endorsement of the KKK. And now that Trump’s been elected, his newly emboldened fans are already testing boundaries. As of Friday, the Southern Poverty Law Center had collected reports on over 200 alleged incidents of harassment. And while some skeptics say the unverified reports look like fraud or run-of-the-mill racism, others worry that the incidents forecast a grim future.
Muslim Americans have reported a spike in physical and verbal attacks since Trump’s election. On Wednesday morning, just hours after Trump declared victory, Muslim students at New York University found the word “Trump!” scrawled on the door of their prayer room. The school’s Muslim Students Association called the graffiti a “chilling wake-up call,” a feeling many Muslims shared across the country.
“Your time’s up, girlie,” a man on a subway platform reportedly told journalist Mehreen Kasana while she was wearing a headscarf on Wednesday morning. That same day at San Diego State University, a Muslim student was walking to her car when two men confronted her with “comments about President-elect Trump and the Muslim community,” a report from campus police reads. The men reportedly robbed her of her purse, along with her keys, and drove away in her car. A Muslim student at San Jose State University reportedly experienced a similar attack in a parking garage on Wednesday, when an unknown man pulled at her hijab from behind, choking the student and causing her to fall, according to a campus-wide alert. Also on Wednesday, a University of New Mexico freshman said one of her Trump-supporting classmates attempted to rip her hijab off her head. After the girl fought off her classmate, she reportedly confronted the man, who mentioned Trump and told her “I am going to sit down before you [throw] a grenade at me,” the Albuquerque Journal reports. Near the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Wednesday, a Muslim woman was reportedly confronted on a bus with a knife. At the University of Michigan on Friday, a student wearing a hijab was confronted by a stranger who brandished a lighter at her and threatened to set her on fire if she did not remove the scarf, police say.
Muslim educators also reportedly came under attack in their schools. A Georgia high-school teacher who wears a hijab reported that someone left a threatening note on her desk on Friday. “Your head scarf isn’t allowed anymore. Why don’t you tie it around your neck and hang yourself,” reads the handwritten card, which is signed “America!”
And in a nearby Georgia high school, a pro-Trump teacher reportedly joined the offensive against minorities, launching into a tirade about undocumented immigrants. The unnamed teacher has been placed on leave pending an investigation into her allegedly “abusive” rant against immigrants on Wednesday. Eighty-six percent of the students at the teacher’s school are Latino, and many speak English as a second language.
In a Los Angeles middle school on Wednesday, a substitute teacher was recorded mocking sixth-grade students over deportations. “If you were born here, then your parents got to go. Then they will leave you behind, and you will be in foster care,” the teacher is heard saying on the recording. When a student asks how Trump’s administration will find her parents, the teacher threatens that “I have your phone numbers, your address, your mama’s address, your daddy’s address. It’s all in the system, sweetie.”
Students at a California high school were also subjected to deportation threats, after a classmate handed out “deportation letters” to minorities and posted footage to social media. Video from a middle school outside Detroit shows students chanting “build the wall” in the cafeteria, while their Latino classmates cried or looked on with extreme discomfort on Wednesday. At a different Detroit-area middle school that same day, white students reportedly linked arms to block minority students from passing.
A teacher in Washington state reported similar anti-Latino comments in school. “‘Build a wall’ was chanted in our cafeteria Wed at lunch,” the teacher told the SPLC. “‘If you aren’t born here, pack your bags’ was shouted in my own classroom. ‘Get out spic’ was said in our halls.”
A Mexican-American high school teacher told the SPLC that one of his students told him to leave the country as “he wasn’t welcome any longer.” A Harvard professor registered an official complaint with the U.S. Postal Service after he reportedly witnessed an employee shouting “go back to your country. This is Trump land. You ain’t getting your check no more,” at a Latino man.
A University of Denver law professor of Asian descent said a man shouted “build the wall” at her from a distance on Thursday. “Guessing he saw a brown woman at a distance & assumed I was Latina,” she wrote on Twitter.
African Americans have reported a dramatic rise in racist remarks since Trump’s Tuesday election. At the University of Pennsylvania, black students were added to a chat group where users with names like “Daddy Trump” sent them racial and sexist slurs, along with an invitation to an event called “Daily Lynching.” The anonymous users also called the students “dumb slave[s]” and sent a picture of a mass-lynching with the caption “I love America.” A University of Oklahoma student has been suspended in connection with the messages.
In Louisiana, a black woman says she was waiting to cross the street when a truck with three white men pulled up alongside her. “One of them yelled, ‘Fuck your black life!’” the woman told the SPLC. “The other two began to laugh. One began to chant ‘Trump!’ as they drove away.”
A bathroom at a Minnesota high school was defaced with racist messages: “whites only,” “Trump train,” “white america,” and explicit racial slurs were written inside a stall, pictures reveal. In Durham, North Carolina, a large outdoor wall was graffitied with an anti-black message: “Black lives don’t matter and neither does your votes,” the message read.
In the Upstate New York town of Wellsville, a large swastika was found painted on a baseball dugout, accompanied by the words “Make America White Again.” The swastika was one of many to appear across the country in the wake of the election, including one an hour away on the campus of SUNY Geneseo. In New York City, students at the New School reported finding swastikas drawn on four dorm rooms, including those of Jewish students. Another swastika appeared on a sidewalk in a heavily Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn. In Philadelphia, two swastikas and the words “sieg heil” were spray painted on a storefront early Wednesday morning. In Indiana, an Episcopal church shared pictures of a swastika and the words “fag church” and “heil Trump” spray painted on the side. In Montana, self-professed Nazis allegedly began campaigning in earnest after Trump’s victory. Flyers promoting the American Nazi Party and disparaging Jewish people began appearing on Missoula doorsteps last week.
Many of these alleged incidents are still under investigation, or cannot be verified due to the claims’ anonymous origins online. Others, like a black baby doll found hanging at a college in Buffalo, New York, allegedly began as an ill-conceived anti-Trump joke.
Some of the 200-plus reports have been debunked, or invited significant skepticism.
A Louisiana college student who claimed to have had her hijab ripped off and her wallet stolen admitted to fabricating the incident. In San Francisco, a man flew a Nazi flag over his home, although when confronted, said he was condemning Trump by likening him to European facists. After a Delaware woman took to Facebook to report an alleged racial attack, she posted an update claiming she had filed charges and her attackers had been captured. But local police told the PhillyVoice that they’d received no such report, and did not have an open case on the alleged incident.
Trump supporters have also reported biased attacks of their own, after they flaunted Trump merchandise. In the Bronx on Saturday, a person wearing a Trump hat was allegedly throttled by a stranger who asked if he was a Trump supporter. Two Connecticut men were arrested Saturday after allegedly punching and kicking a man holding a pro-Trump sign.
But one of the most widely circulated reports of a purportedly anti-Trump attack has been debunked. A viral video showed a Trump supporter under attack while an onlooker shouted, “You voted for Trump!”
The victim clarified later that the beating began when he sideswiped his attackers’ car with his own.