The Election of 2016 has been one of the most controversial, dividing and hate filled elections in the course of US history but what’s truly scary is the effect on hate related incidents.
In 2015 according to FBI statistics, reports show hate crime levels and hate related incidents increased 6.8% and preliminary statistics show a further increase in 2016. And many of these incidents are tied to the election. Donald Trump who has condoned violence against protesters at his rallies and has been endorsed by the KKK, has given a voice to unseen hate which is rising up into the light. Across the nation nazi and pro and anti trump messages have been graffitied on store fronts, houses and cars including multiple cases in South Philadelphia. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center at least 700 hate crimes have been reported as of November 19.
Perhaps most shocking is the instances at schools. In Pennsylvania high schoolers came in November 9 with a Trump poster and chanting, in California bathrooms were labelled by color and at Penn African American students found themselves on a lynching calendar. At Wichita State University a man found himself being beaten by a Trump supporter who was yelling the president elect’s name. Even at supposed places of safety, of education, hate crime still exists and is rising a startling levels.
For weeks many have claimed this uptick to be unrelated but the facts state that the President elect’s racist policies have given voice to many white supremacists and led many angered liberals to crime. There have also been alleged assaults and crimes aimed at Trump supporters and the Southern Poverty Law Center reports 27 against Trump voters as of November 16, but the majority are targeted against minorities. Reported hate crime have decreased since November 9 but the numbers are still high. On 60 Minutes requested an end to these hate crimes ordering the perpetrators to “Stop it” but his cabinet appointments including Steve Bannon, the controversial founder of the highly biased and in many cases racist, Breitbart News, have not helped the mood of the nation.
Locally pro and anti trump messages have been graffitied across Philadelphia including swastikas with the message “Heil Trump”. Even the Trolley Car Diner, a popular GFS hangout has not escaped the post election hate and a Trump supporter reported both verbal and physical attacks by a waitress at the diner. Owner Ken Weinstein has confirmed the waitress’s verbal attacks and is said to have disciplined her but both he and the waitress denied the accusation of physical violence rather, that waitress and customer accidently ran into each other in an employee. Overall both accuser and defendant handled the aftermath of the incident well and without hate, but other trump supporters have sent the Trolley Car, Ken Weinstein and Ken’s family death and bomb threats.
Across the whole nation hate crimes are on a dramatic increase, to get a vague idea of what GFS student and teachers think we interviewed a number of people about their knowledge or experience with hate crime and what advice they have. “One of my cousins on my mom’s side he was, he normally takes the bus home from school and he wasn’t on the bus that day but it was like one of his friends who was on the bus and this kid, he was, like he wasn’t… he was disabled so he couldn’t really do anything about it and one of the kids on the bus fired up a hot glue gun burned his arm and while everyone else was chanting Trump,” said Madison Wells Mcphee in eighth grade. “We really need to, one of the things we should do is not just try sweeping it under the rug, say like oh it’s just one instance or oh it’s just happening over there it’s not nation wide. There’s like yeah you might hear about a story that’s happening in this one location that doesn’t mean that’s the only instance that there is. We really need to face the fact that this is becoming a problem and we need to start like being more open and discussing race to solve it.”
“Everyday we seem to be hearing about stories across the country, people being assaulted verbally or physically,” said John King.
“To anyone who’s experiencing hate crimes, hate crimes are for people who are either born ignorant or just stuck in their own ways and have bias based on how they were raised. So do not feel less about yourself based on a hate crime about gender, race, sexual identity,” said Tkai Dunshee. “And for the country, I would let the country know that regardless of who our president is, hate crimes will not be accepted. If someone has performed such a bad hate crime will not mean that they will not be, get formal punishment based on the president.”
“I feel like it’s important for politician, for people who have a loud voice in social media, things like that to really come out and talk about and be role models, for youth especially,” answered Lily Bromley.
“Raising awareness, stopping dealing, helping people, very important things,” said Gabriel Kadowitz in response to what advice would you give to ending hate crime or to the country in general.
“We need to invest in positive, in building positive relationships with our neighbors and with each other and in communities. Too often the politics of this country are centered around selfishness or feeling like some people deserve something and some people don’t and they’re not really centered around helping everybody live a good life and I truly believe that if we develop positive systems that, that work for everybody then our communities will come together,” responded Stephen Holt.
“We can’t end racism but what we can do is discourage it, we have to treat like it is a problem. We have to take it out of our mainstream society,” responded Diallo Rabb.
“Shape up, let’s get ourselves fixed and well people, we need to back up the people who are trying to change for the better,” said Noah Rudick.
In these uncertain times it’s hard to say what the outcome of these events will mean, how each voice will be heard but we must stay united. We’ve got to have the tough conversations and fight hate crime and racism. We must work against hate crime regardless of what side of the election it’s on, and in the words of Tkai Dunshee “regardless of who our president is, hate crimes will not be accepted”.
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WHYY on Trolley Car Incident
And of course the wonderful GFS students and faculty!