More Hate Crimes Reported Despite Trump's Call to 'Stop It' | NECN
Decision 2016

Decision 2016

Full coverage of the race for the White House

More Hate Crimes Reported Despite Trump's Call to 'Stop It'

After a sharp increase in post-election hate crimes across the U.S., some leaders are calling on the president-elect to rescind Steve Bannon's cabinet appointment

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    NEWSLETTERS

    President-elect Donald Trump's choice of Steve Bannon as senior advisor has drawn widespread criticism. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016)

    A family in Michigan awoke Saturday to find a wall of boxes scrawled with "Trump," "Take Back America" and "Mexicans suck" blocking their driveway. A doll made of balloons was also found hanging nearby and a vulgar message was spray-painted on the driveway, police said

    In Maryland, parishioners arriving for Sunday services discovered the words "Trump Nation, Whites Only" scrawled on the walls of the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour in Silver Spring. The church offers weekly Spanish-language services.

    In Brooklyn, a suspect spray-painted a swastika in front of a 78-year-old man's home. And three students were disciplined after a Confederate flag was brought to Coral Reef Senior High School in South Florida on Monday, officials said. 

    Nearly a week after the election of Donald Trump, reports of hateful intimidation or harassment continue. The Southern Poverty Law Center said it had received 437 reports of such incidents between Wednesday, Nov. 9 and Monday, Nov. 14.

    Most of the cases appear to involve graffiti or intimidation directed at racial or ethnic minorities and in some reports the perpetrators indicated support for Trump. 

    Ryan Lenz, a spokesman for the anti-intolerance watchdog said acts of hate and intimidation occurred in the U.S. during the campaign season with SPLC tracking the high-profile cases. But those incidents have increased sharply since Election Day on Nov. 8. 

    "After the election these reports have become ever present, coming at us and everyone else at a level that was demanding our attention. And so what we did — we started to tally them," Lenz said. He added that the reports "are not completely confirmed."

    The apparent uptick in reports of bias crimes and discrimination in the Empire State prompted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to launch a hotline Tuesday.

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    President Barack Obama held his first news conference for the first time since Donald Trump was elected president on Nov. 14, 2016, discussing his meeting with Trump in the White House and that the Democrats should stick to their core beliefs in the upcoming years of Republican leadership. (Published Monday, Nov. 14, 2016)

    "We will continue to work with our local partners to investigate all incidents of reported bias, and ensure that New Yorkers feel safe and protected," Cuomo said. "Any acts of discrimination or intimidation will be met with the full force of the law." 

    After calls for Trump to address the hateful incidents, the president-elect said in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes," that he did not hear about the violence and harassment in his name or in some cases directed at his supporters, other than "one or two instances."

    "I would say don’t do it, that’s terrible, ‘cause I’m gonna bring this country together," Trump said in addressing his supporters.

    He added: "I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, “Stop it.” If it-- if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it."

    During the campaign for president, Trump was criticized for being slow to condemn former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke after he gave the candidate his backing. The Republican has also repeatedly retweeted messages from white supremacist sympathizers. 

    Lenz said the SPLC commends Trump for addressing his supporters in the Sunday interview. But he said that Trump's actions contradict his words. 

    "This is an energized and angry movement that has been given legitimacy because of the election and suddenly to switch gears on them and tell them the hate we’ve been jamming down your throat and legitimizing and targeting Muslims and immigrants, 'oh by the way slow down on that,' I mean it doesn't seem to be an appropriate effort at this hour," Lenz said. 

    Trump's directive to his supporters came on the same day he named Steven Bannon his White House chief strategist and senior counselor. Bannon, the Trump campaign CEO, came from Breitbart News, the site that under his leadership has pushed a nationalist, anti-establishment agenda and become one of the leading outlets of the so-called alt-right — a movement often associated with far-right efforts to preserve "white identity," oppose multiculturalism and defend "Western values."

    Barack Obama Discusses Donald Trump Presidency

    [NATL] Barack Obama Discusses Donald Trump Presidency
    President Barack Obama holds his first news conference for the first time since Donald Trump became President-elect at the end of the 2016 presidential election on Nov. 14, 2016. He discussed his meeting with Trump and tells Democrats to stick to their core beliefs in the upcoming years. (Published Monday, Nov. 14, 2016)

    Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called on Trump Tuesday afternoon to rescind his appointment of Bannon. Reid cited quotes from the appointee, recorded in legal documents, in which Bannon had bluntly declared that he "doesn't like Jews," among other anti-Semitic comments.

    "I say, 'Take responsibility,'" Reid said, addressing the president-elect. "Rise to the dignity of the office, instead of hiding behind your Twitter account." The senator also discouraged Americans from normalizing any racism and misogyny espoused by newly appointed and elected leaders.

    Reid read a letter, addressed to Trump, written by a 7th grade female student who said she's "extremely scared."

    "What message does Trump send to the young girl who woke up Wednesday in Rhode Island afraid to be a woman of color in America?" Reid asked.

    On Monday, Breitbart.com published a story by a senior editor that cited a few cases of the reported hate crimes that turned out to be untrue or unverified, using the headline "Wave of Fake 'Hate Crimes' Sweeps Anti-Trump Social Media."

    The story dismissed cases of intimidating behavior by students as "boorish" and argued "real crimes" are being committed by protesters at some anti-Trump protests. The media "narrative" of a wave of hate crimes is meant to tarnish the president-elect, the story argued. 

    Lenz said Trump's appointment of Bannon, "someone whose website has trafficked in anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic memes for the better part of 18 months, seems to put a big red stamp of illegitimacy" on anything the president-elect says. 

    Trump's transition team has not responded to NBC's request for comment on the new reports of hateful incidents and on Reid's and Lenz's comments about Bannon. 

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    The Bannon pick was met with backlash from, in some cases, both sides of the political aisle.

    John Weaver, a Republican strategist who worked for Ohio Gov. John Kasich's presidential campaign, tweeted, "The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office. Be very vigilant, America."

    House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that including Bannon in the new administration "is an alarming signal that President-elect Trump remains committed to the hateful and divisive vision that defined his campaign. There must be no sugarcoating the reality that a white nationalist has been named chief strategist for the Trump Administration."

    The day after Bannon's appointment, The American Jewish Committee and the Islamic Society of North America, two of the nation’s largest Jewish and Muslim advocacy groups, announced they've joined forces to fight bigotry.

    “We have to show the administration that as American Muslims and Jews — people of the faiths of Abraham — we are uniting to help the administration navigate in the proper constitutional manner, to uphold freedom of religion and constitutional rights for all American citizens," said Eftakhar Alam, senior coordinator at ISNA’s Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances.

    The concept to form the council originated months before the election, Alam said, and would've been implemented even if Democrat Hillary Clinton won.

    Meanwhile on Monday, the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting division released its annual "Hate Crimes Statistics" report, on the number of bias-motivated incidents in 2015.

    More than 5,800 incidents of hate crimes were reported to authorities, involving 7,121 victims, the report said.

    The number of hate crimes rose 6 percent in 2015. The number of reported anti-Muslim hate crimes jumped 66 percent that year, according to the report.

    Lenz said the FBI's report is not surprising. 

    "The year in question saw extreme growth in Anti-Muslim movement as a result of terror attacks in the U.S. and Europe," Lenz said. "It came at a time when there was tremendous fear of refugees coming from Syria as a result of conflict there and also came at a time when President-elect Donald Trump was traveling the country making promises about putting a complete ban on the immigration of Muslims to the United States a ban that’s arguably completely unconstitutional of the ground of prohibiting someone based on their race or religion."