Dozens of reports of alleged hate crimes have surfaced on social media in the wake of the election of Donald Trump.
“I was sitting down in the library in my school and a very big man wearing a Trump shirt walks up behind me. I start to turn around but before I can see who’s there, a hand is on my head… attempting to push my hijab back.”
The Muslim student at the University of New Mexico, who spoke to BBC Trending, says she ducked out of the way of her attacker.
“I told him that he has every right to believe what he wants and he can say whatever he wants but as soon as he puts his hands on me, then things get serious,” she says. “He then walked away saying ‘I’m going to sit down before you throw a grenade at me.'”
The incident is just one of dozens of alleged attacks motivated by religious and race hate which have been reported and shared on social media since Tuesday’s election. In many cases it’s impossible to verify the allegations and what connection, if any, they have with Tuesday’s vote.
In the case of the student in New Mexico, she reported the attack to university authorities but not to the police.
“I decided not to press charges because I’m not here to expose anyone,” she says. “He made a mistake and hopefully with all the publicity that this situation got, he has learned his lesson.”
University officials say they are investigating a number of incidents on the campus, but cannot comment on individual cases due to federal law.
In the aftermath of Tuesday’s election there have been a number of credible reports of hate crimes:
- In Philadelphia, a number of swastikas were painted onto buildings along with pro-Trump graffiti. In one case “Trump Rules” and a racial slur were painted onto a car
- In the small village of Wellsville in New York State, a swastika was painted onto a building on a softball field along with the words “MAKE AMERICA WHITE AGAIN”
- In San Diego, a university student was robbed by two men who police say “made comments about President-elect Trump and Muslims” before grabbing her purse and stealing her car. Police say they are investigating the case as a hate crime
Violence and threats against Trump supporters have also been reported.
- In California a girl who expressed support for Trump on Instagram was attacked at school the next day. Her parents say the attack was politically motivated.
- In Chicago, a white man involved in a traffic accident was beaten and robbed by a group of black people. In a video of the incident circulating widely on Facebook, bystanders are heard shouting “Don’t vote Trump!”But beware – there are also hoaxes and false stories circulating. In Louisiana, a student who said she was robbed by two men who shouted racial obscenities turned out to have made the story up. And old stories about hate crimes and assaults against minorities are making the rounds on social media, masquerading as breaking news.
Several social media activists and accounts were sharing stories of incidents around the country, and individual users were also posting their own stories, some of which were shared thousands of times:
The cause and effect around current events and hate crimes is complicated. In the UK, the Home Office recorded a 41% jump in racial and religious abuse in the month following the EU referendum in June. The sharp increase declined in August but has “remained at a higher level” than before the Brexit vote, the Home Office said. But major events also boost awareness of hate crimes and awareness of how to report them, along with media attention, and that could account for some of the spike.
It’s far too soon to tell to whether a similar increase will be recorded after the US election, and how large it might be. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation tracks hate crime statistics and releases an annual report, but the one covering this year won’t come out until late 2017.