Justice

Hate Crimes After Donald Trump's Election vs. After President Obama's

The day after Donald Trump was elected president, the Southern Poverty Law Center tallied 202 reports of hate crimes targeting minority groups throughout the U.S. Ten days after Election Day, that number had risen to 867.

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The link between Trump's victory and this outpouring of hate is undeniable, said Mark Potok, a senior fellow and expert in extremism at the SPLC.

"For one thing, it coincided precisely with the immediate aftermath of the election," Potok told ATTN:. "More obviously, in a very significant number of these incidents, Trump's name was invoked directly by the perpetrators in a variety of different ways."

Is the surge in hate crimes unprecedented?

The exact numbers are hard to come by. The FBI has tracked annual hate crimes since 1992, but there's no way to tell precisely how many incidents took place in the days that immediately followed President Barack Obama's 2008 or 2012 election, for example.

The SPLC didn't keep count during those elections, either.

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Anecdotally, however, Potok recalled hundreds of post-2008 election hate crimes — the majority of which were directed at Black Americans.

"The only thing that we've really seen like this in this country has been what happened immediately after the election of Barack Obama the first time in November of 2008," Potok said. "The vast majority of those were explicitly anti-Black and were also invoked, in one way or another, in Obama's name. It happened just the same way — on a lesser scale."

The Christian Science Monitor estimated that there were "more than 200 hate-related incidents" within the first two weeks of Obama's election.

That estimate, while staggering in and of itself, represents a small fraction of the reported hate crimes in the aftermath of Trump's election.

I asked Potok what accounted for the disparity, and he said the answer likely had to do with Trump's rhetoric on the campaign trail.

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"The Trump campaign demonized virtually every minority out there and did so on a pretty consistent basis," Potok said.

"It became so clear — at least in many people's minds — that the Trump presidency represented a kind of white nationalism, and we saw people who have white nationalist ideas or tendencies just go crazy," Potok said. "I think that's really what happened."

It should be noted that 23 of the 867 hate crimes the SPLC included in its November report were considered "anti-Trump."

There were "far fewer reports of anti-Trump harassment and intimidation than there were of the other types of harassment cataloged in this report," the SPLC said, but added that "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."

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