Ten Days After: Harassment and Intimidation in the Aftermath of the Election
In the ten days following the election, there were almost 900 reports of harassment and intimidation from across the nation. Many harassers invoked Trump’s name during assaults, making it clear that the outbreak of hate stemmed in large part from his electoral success.*
People have experienced harassment at school, at work, at home, on the street, in public transportation, in their cars, in grocery stores and other places of business, and in their houses of worship. They most often have received messages of hate and intolerance through graffiti and verbal harassment, although a small number also have reported violent physical interactions. Some incidents were directed at the Trump campaign or his supporters.
Of course, hate crimes and lower-level incidents of racial or ethnically charged harassment have long been common in the United States. But the targets of post-election hate incidents report that they are experiencing something quite new.
“I have experienced discrimination in my life, but never in such a public and unashamed manner,” an Asian-American woman reported after a man told her to “go home” as she left an Oakland train station. Likewise, a black resident whose apartment was vandalized with the phrase “911 nigger” reported that he had “never witnessed anything like this.” A Los Angeles woman, who encountered a man who told her he was “Gonna beat [her] pussy,” stated that she was in this neighborhood “all the time and never experienced this type of language before.” Not far away in Sunnyvale, California, a transgender person reported being targeted with homophobic slurs at a bar where “I’ve been a regular customer for 3 years — never had any issues.”
In his 60 Minutes interview that aired on November 13, President-elect Trump claimed that he was “surprised to hear” that some of his supporters had been using racial slurs and making threats against African Americans, Latinos, and gays. He shouldn’t have been. In his November 23 interview with The New York Times, Trump claimed he had no idea why white supremacists — the so-called “alt right” — had been “energized” by his campaign. Again, it’s no mystery. Both the harassment since the election and the energy on the radical right are the predictable results of the campaign that Trump waged for the presidency — a campaign marked by incendiary racial statements, the stoking of white racial resentment, and attacks on so-called “political correctness.”
At this point, it is not enough for Trump to look in the camera and say “Stop it!” to the harassers, as he did on 60 Minutes. Nor is it enough for him to simply “disavow” the white supremacists who see him as their champion, as he did at the Times. If he is to make good on the first promise he made as the president-elect — his pledge to “bind the wounds of division” in our country — he must repair the damage that his campaign has caused. Rather than feign ignorance, he must acknowledge that his own words have opened “wounds of division” in our country. Rather than simply saying “Stop it!” and disavowing the radical right, he must speak out forcefully and repeatedly against all forms of bigotry and reach out to the communities his words have injured. And rather than merely saying that he “wants to bring the country together,” his actions must consistently demonstrate he is doing everything in his power to do so. Until president-elect Trump does these things, the hate that his campaign has unleashed is likely to continue to flourish.
The 867 hate incidents described here come from two sources — submissions to the #ReportHate page on the SPLC website and media accounts. Incidents were limited to real-world events; the count does not include instances of online harassment. We have excluded incidents that authorities have determined to be hoaxes; however, it was not possible to confirm the veracity of all reports.
The incidents documented here almost certainly represent a small fraction of the actual number of election-related hate incidents that have occurred since November 8. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that two-thirds of hate crimes go unreported to the police. The underreporting problem is surely more severe when it comes to hate incidents that may not rise to the level of criminal violations and that are being reported to a new, little-known repository established by a private organization.
SUMMARY OF THE DATA
Hate incidents have been reported from almost every state.
As the hate incident location chart reflects, schools — K-12 settings and colleges — have been the most common venues for hate incidents, a result that is not surprising, given how prevalent bullying is in our nation’s schools and the characteristics of young people. A Washington state teacher reported that at her school:
“Build a wall” was chanted in our cafeteria Wed [after the election] at lunch. “If you aren’t born here, pack your bags” was shouted in my own classroom. “Get out spic” was said in our halls.
A mother from Colorado offered this story:
My 12-year-old daughter is African American. A boy approached her and said, “Now that Trump is president, I’m going to shoot you and all the blacks I can find.”
Hate incidents have also been extremely common in two settings where strangers are likely to encounter one another — on the street and in retail establishments. A woman from Louisiana submitted the following report:
I was standing at a red light waiting to cross the street. A black truck with three white men pulled up to the red light. One of them yelled, “Fuck your black life!” The other two began to laugh. One began to chant “Trump!” as they drove away.
When an 18-year old service employee in Kalamazoo, Michigan, asked a man if he needed help, he replied, “I don’t need to ask you for shit. Donald Trump is president.” He then called her a “black bitch” and spat on her shoes. A cashier in Minnesota and a hostess in Illinois were both called “nigger” by their customers.
People also have been harassed in their homes. Many have reported receiving threatening messages on their front lawns, slipped under their front doors, left on their porches, and taped onto their windshields. A Sudanese-American family in Iowa City, Iowa, for example, found a note attached to their door that read, “You can all go home now. We don’t want niggers and terrorists here. #trump.” A lesbian couple in Austin, Texas, came home to find “DYKE,” “Trump,” and a swastika spray-painted onto their door. One residence in Pittsburg, California, draped a banner proclaiming to neighbors: “You can hang a nigger from a tree equal rights he’ll never see.”
The targets or motivation of the harassers are also illustrated. The figure includes reported hate incidents motivated by disdain for Trump.
The category “Trump-General” refers to incidents in which harassers invoked Trump’s name but did not make their motivations clear. The “other” category refers to hate incidents motivated by bias against Asian Americans, Native Americans, or those with disabilities. Some incidents were difficult to categorize because they appeared to be motivated by multiple forms of hatred or bias.
The number of reported incidents declined over the ten days following the election.
The following sections of this report describe some of the incidents by each group targeted.
Following a campaign in which promises to build a wall between Mexico and the United States were frequently touted, anti-immigrant harassment was the most reported type received, frequently overlapping with over forms. Of the 867 hate incidents collected by the SPLC, 280, or 32%, were motivated by anti-immigrant sentiment.
In Punta Gorda, Florida, an argument between a Hispanic family and a woman who nearly drove through a crosswalk escalated when she told them they “should all be deported.” In Dallas, an older white man walked by a Hispanic man and, unprovoked, yelled, “Go back to Mexico!” An onlooker noted that most people looked surprised, but no one said anything.
Sadly, even children have been targeted by adult strangers in public places. On a beach in Hermosa, California, a 10-year-old boy was approached by a middle-aged white man who called him a “beaner” and told him to “get the fuck out” of the country.
Latino residents have reported being harassed by their neighbors. In Tuscola County, Mich., a Latino family was shocked to find a wall of boxes scrawled with “Trump,” “Take America Back,” and “Mexicans suck.”
Deportation threats have often been made during vitriolic face-to-face encounters. In Silver Spring, Maryland, a female shopper berated a Latino worker for not working fast enough. She demanded to know where he was from, and, despite the fact that he was born in the United States, she repeatedly yelled “This is my country,” while derisively referring to him as “El Salvador.”
Asian-Americans were also among those targeted with anti-immigrant rhetoric and racial slurs. While a Chinese-American high school student was getting gas, a white man approached her to say, “Can’t wait for Trump to deport you or I will deport you myself, dyke yellow bitch.” On a sidewalk in San Antonio, Texas, a young man asked a girl waiting for the bus, “You’re Asian, right? When they see your eyes, you are going to be deported.”
Undocumented immigrants often fear that reporting harassment and abuse will reveal their status, resulting in the likely underreporting of incidents. Many such incidents are reported only by friends, as was the case with a 12-year-old in Greenville, South Carolina, The middle schooler was surrounded by eight classmates who told her they “couldn’t wait to see her ugly face deported.” She fought them and is now facing a court date that her mother is terrified will result in the family’s deportation. A family friend reported the incident.
Students and young people have absorbed divisive campaign rhetoric and are using it to taunt and harass their classmates, with chants of “Build the wall!” making their way into school cafeterias, hallways, and buses. In Colorado Springs, Colorado, 8th grade students told Latino students on the school bus, “Not only should Trump build a wall, but it should be electrocuted (sic) and Mexicans should have to wear shock collars.” In Redding, California, students brought “deportation letters” to school for their Latino classmates.
Children’s anxieties about being deported are described by one mother’s report from Greenville, North Carolina. When her son asked, “Mom, am I going to be deported?" She told him, “No, why?” And he said, “Because almost every kid in school was telling me that I was going to be deported to Mexico. And I told them no, I was born a U.S. citizen. But they said, ‘Yes you are, ’cause you are Mexican — just look at your skin color.’”
Even teachers, those charged with caring for and shaping our young people, have reportedly expressed anti-immigrant sentiments to their students. In Los Angeles, a teacher was recorded telling her student that her parents would be deported. She said, “I have your phone numbers, your address, your mama’s address, your daddy’s address; it’s all in the system, sweetie.” Black students, too, have received this type of harassment from adults they should be able to trust.
Anti-immigration harassment hasn't been restricted to Latino students. In Wesley Chapel, Florida, a teacher scolded the behavior of black students by saying, “Don’t make me call Donald Trump to get you sent back to Africa.” In Indiana, a 7th grader demanded to know whether a classmate adopted from China was in fact Mexican, because, if so, “Trump is going to kill you.” A middle-school student in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, had her hijab forcefully removed, causing her to fall. A 13-year-old adopted from Mozambique was told by her classmates in California, “Now that Trump won, you’re going to have to go back to Africa — where you belong.”
More than 180, or 23% of the documented incidents reflect anti-black sentiment. The vast majority of incidents targeting black people have consisted of racial slurs, whether in graffiti or face-to-face harassment. In Los Angeles, a five-feet by three-feet sign was propped next to a bus shelter reading, “NO NIGGERS.” In Arizona, a woman putting groceries in her trunk reported that two men in a pickup truck yelled “Trump forever, you half-nigger slut bitch!” as they drove past her.
In many anti-black incidents, references to lynching has been common. “Noose Tying 101” was written on a whiteboard at San Francisco State University, and a black doll was found hanging from a noose in an elevator at New York’s Canisius College. A man in Kansas City, Missouri, reported that a noose and swastika were spray-painted onto his car, and a young woman in New York City received a text message from a high school classmate reading, “Fuck u nigger bitch. Die. Painfully from a tree….Or being dragged behind a pickup truck flying the confederate flag filled with dem good ol boys. Nigger scum. Cotton picker.” On the Las Vegas Strip, a white man punched two black men and attempted to assault a black woman. After the attack, he chanted “Donald Trump!” and “White Power!”
White people have been threatened for bringing black friends past the boundaries of “white neighborhoods.” A man in Natick, Massachusetts received three letters warning that his community had “zero tolerance for black people.” “We have reclaimed our country back by selecting Trump,” one note read, “and you are now messing up everything.” The final letter warned, “We have just cleared the white house of niggers! Do not bring niggers in our neighborhood... We will kill them.”
In Clarksburg, Virginia, a white woman married to a black man found a note attached to the family’s front door that read, “you’re worse than your nigger family because you should know better. Race trader (sic). Trump 2016.” In Brundidge, Alabama, an interracial couple found a gun target tacked to the front door of their restaurant with a pair of nooses hung on either side. A white couple with eleven adopted black children were the object of a letter that read, “You and yours need to stay separate — NOT EQUAL.”
Other anti-black incidents have cited contemporary themes, like the vandalism of a building in Durham, North Carolina, with the phrase “Black Lives Don’t Matter (sic) and Neither Does Your Votes.” In Washington, D.C., a flier referencing Black Lives Matter read: “We are organizing a new movement to rid our neighborhood of niggers. No more Black Lives Matter! Kill them all.”
African Americans have been frequently targeted with harassment featuring references of Trump and his campaign. A note left in the bathroom of an Iowa university read, “TRUMP 2016 Lets (sic) Run those Niggers and Illegals out of town.” In Nevada, a cashier reported a customer approaching the counter to ask her, “Why so sad? Now that Trump has won, you can all go back to Africa!” In San Diego, a driver yelled at a person crossing the street, “Fucking nigger, go back to Africa! The slave ship is loading up! TRUMP!” One woman reported that a man in a Trump hat approached her at a diner and laughed as he motioned to her biracial daughter, “You’re gonna have to send that one back now.”
Hate incidents involving Muslims, or those perceived to be Muslim, were about 6% of the total collected by the SPLC.
Muslim Americans are frequently characterized as terrorists. In Nashville, a white man in a truck hurled racial slurs at a woman wearing a hijab while she waited for the bus with her son. “Go back to your fucking country and take your terrorist son with you,” he said as he drove away. In El Cajon, California, a business received a typed note that read: “BE PREPARED TO GO BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY WITH ISIS…DONALD TRUMP WILL KICK ALL OF YOUR ASS BACK WHERE YOU CAME FROM.”
At a hospital in Chicago, a woman reported that a man in the elevator looked at her and said, “Fuckin’ sand-nigger. Thank God Trump is now president. He’s gonna deport your terrorist ass.”
Muslim women wearing hijabs have been particularly vulnerable to threats and assault. Women reported being grabbed by their hijab, including a San Jose State University student who was choked and fell when a man pulled her head scarf from behind in a parking garage.
Since the election, LGBT people have experienced harassment by those who allege that the president-elect shares their anti-LGBT sentiments. In Brighton, Michigan, a woman was approached by two white men who told her, “Just so you know, we hate fucking dykes and so does our President.” In Russellville, Arkansas, a woman found a note written on a piece of trash taped to her door, which read, “Trump says get back in the closet, fags!”
In Sarasota, Florida, a 75-year-old gay man was ripped from his car and beaten by an assailant who told him, “You know my new president says we can kill all you faggots now.”
Harassment of LGBT individuals has been reported across the country, making up 11% of all reported incidents. People in Michigan, Colorado, Indiana, Texas, Washington, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Massachusetts all reported finding homophobic slurs spray-painted or carved onto their front doors, windows, mailboxes and porches. In North Canton, Ohio, a couple reported “DYKE” was scratched into the driver’s door and hood of their car within hours of the election, the first anti-LGBT harassment they’ve experienced in the four years they’ve lived in the neighborhood. Pride flags in Rochester, New York, were set on fire while still attached to people’s homes.
A common refrain in anti-LGBT harassment is the threat of rescinding the constitutional protections of same-sex marriage. In Brighton, Iowa, a couple got this note under their windshield: “So father homo, how does it feel to have Trump as your president? At least he’s got a set of balls. They’ll put marriage back where God wants it and take your’s away. America’s gonna take care of your faggity ass.” In North Carolina, a couple received a similar note: “Can’t wait until your ‘marriage’ is overturned by a real president. Gay families = burn in hell. #Trump2016.”
LGBT children have not escaped harassment in the wake of the election. In upstate New York, students wrote homophobic slurs and drew a swastika on a teen’s headphones while he was in class. In Cedar Falls, Iowa, a 16-year-old decided to drop out of school after a series of incidents in which schoolmates called her a fag and queer, and threatened to “grab her by the pussy.” The teenager came out four years ago and her parents said, “We never experienced anything like that. All of a sudden, the 9th (of November) hits, and she’s some kind of freak — she’s a target.”
Churches that performed same-sex marriages or had banners advertising inclusivity have been targeted in the wake of the election, as in Beanblossom, Ind., where St. David’s Episcopal church was vandalized with a swastika and the phrases “Heil Trump” and “fag church.” In Mason City, Iowa, a sign outside First Congregational United Church of Christ, which reads: “We are a sanctuary for the least, lost, gay & straight, female, Muslim… For all! God’s love wins!” was similarly sprayed red to cover the word “gay.”
Since the election, the frequency and tone of street harassment of women seems to have changed. Women — about 5% of the total reports — reported that boys and men around the country are parroting the president-elect’s sexist and vulgar comments from the now-notorious 2005 audio tape. In Minneapolis, middle-school boys leaned out of a school bus to yell, “Grab her by the pussy!” to a man walking with a female colleague. A 50 year-old woman from Venice, California, reported that she had not been “catcalled” in over 20 years. The day after the election, three white men in a pickup truck bearing a Trump sticker shouted at her, “Do you want us to grab your pussy?”
In Arlington, Virginia, a woman crossing the street reported that two young white men yelled at her from their car: “You better be ready because with Trump, we can grab you by the pussy even if you don’t want it.” In New York, a girl on her way to school reported that a man on the subway told her he was “allowed to grab my pussy because it’s legal now."
A woman in Spokane, Washington, reported that she encountered young men who she described as being “‘liberated’ from normal behavior since the election.” They shouted “We’re going to rape you!” from a Jeep with the word “TRUMP” emblazoned on its side.
And in a Brooklyn, New York, restaurant, a woman who voiced her support for Hillary Clinton was punched in the face by a male patron.
In the wake of the election, we recorded 100 anti-Semitic incidents, about 12% of the total recorded. The figure includes 80 vandalism and graffiti incidents of swastikas, without specific references to Jews.
Swastikas have been scrawled in public spaces, schools, driveways, and on people’s cars and garage doors. Many of these incidents simply feature a swastika and a reference to the president-elect.
Other incidents involving swastikas are more clearly anti-Semitic. In Vermont, members of Havurah Synagogue found swastikas drawn on the temple’s front door in the week following the election. In Chicago, a man wearing a yarmulke was called a “kike.” While looking for Hanukkah decorations, a parent and her 2-year-old child in Bel Air, Maryland., were called “fucking Jews” by another shopper. In New York, a man drove by a Jewish woman waiting for a cab and yelled “nice nose!” before adding, “Make America great again.” “I have grown up in New York for 25 years and have never been the victim of an anti-Semitic remark,” she reported.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a woman caught a stranger trying to take the “I’m With Her” bumper sticker off of her car. When confronted, the perpetrator asked her if she was a Jew because she “looked like one.” “Get ready for your next exodus lady,” they told her, “because we’re about to clean out this country.”
White nationalists have openly embraced Donald Trump, and following his election victory, the language, literature, and symbols of white nationalism have cropped up throughout the country.
A vast number of white nationalist fliers and recruiting materials have appeared in businesses, public parks, on people’s cars, in driveways, and, especially, on college campuses around the country. “Are you sick of anti-white propaganda in college? YOU ARE NOT ALONE,” a widely distributed flier read. “RACE IS REAL. Your professors are lying to you to keep their jobs.”
Many fliers perpetuate long-debunked myths of white racial superiority and contain warnings against miscegenation. A handout found on many college campuses explained “Why White Women Shouldn’t Date Black Men.” Other posters encourage whites people to openly embrace their white identity. “Love who you are,” a flier at an Ohio university read, “white people have the right to exist as white people. BE WHITE.” The distribution of Klu Klux Klan recruiting materials has also been reported around the country.
Of the 867 hate incidents collected by the SPLC, 23 were anti-Trump. In the days following the election, there were far fewer reports of anti-Trump harassment and intimidation than there were of the other types of harassment catalogued in this report; however, the small number of anti-Trump incidents may also reflect the fact that Trump supporters may have been unlikely to report incidents to the SPLC.
Many of the reported anti-Trump incidents were characterized by a connection between the targets and the Trump campaign. In Denver, for example, Trump campaign headquarters were vandalized with the word “No” the day after the election. Harassers also targeted people holding Trump signs or wearing Trump campaign paraphernalia, such as “Make America Great Again” hats. In New York, a man wearing a Trump hat was reportedly grabbed around the neck while riding the subway, and, in Connecticut, a man was assaulted after a verbal altercation over a Trump sign. In Chicago, a white motorist was assaulted by black teenagers who shouted, “It’s one of them white boy Trump guys!” after a reported traffic altercation.
This report was written by Cassie Miller and Alexandra Werner-Winslow and edited by Richard Cohen, Wendy Via, and Alex Amend.
Alex Amend, Troy Dabney, Cassie Miller, Angbeen Saleem, Will Tucker, and Alexandra Werner-Winslow
Russell Estes, Michelle Leland, and Scott Phillips
Please report incidents of hateful intimidation and harassment to your local law enforcement first. Submitting the incident to the Southern Poverty Law Center using this form will aid in our work monitoring incidents around the country. If you are a K-12 educator reporting an incident, please use this form.
*Editor's note: In an earlier version, this report opened with the description of an arson in Greenville, Mississippi, that was under investigation. In December, a suspect, a member of the church, was arrested in connection with the crime, and authorities now believe the attack was not politically motivated. This incident was not included in the report’s count as it occurred a week prior to the election.