Swastika Graffiti and 'Build the Wall' Taunts: Inside the Racially Charged Incidents Since Trump's Election
Nevada Senator Harry Reid alluded to the turbulent post-election atmosphere in a statement on Friday, writing that “the election of Donald Trump has emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America.”
“White nationalists, Vladimir Putin and ISIS are celebrating Donald Trump’s victory, while innocent, law-abiding Americans are wracked with fear — especially African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, LGBT Americans and Asian Americans. Watching white nationalists celebrate while innocent Americans cry tears of fear does not feel like America,” he said.
An editorial in The 74 — a non-profit, non-partisan, education-focused news site — called on Trump to speak out about the incidents of “school bullying, intimidation and violence,” that followed the election.
Meanwhile, the Ku Klux Klan has announced that it plans to hold a victory rally on Dec. 3 in North Carolina to celebrate Trump’s win.
Trump’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE and has not made any public statements regarding the reported racially charged incidents. In an interview with 60 Minutes that aired on Sunday, Trump addressed the incidents head on:
“I am so saddened to hear that and I say stop it, if it helps,” he said when asked about the reports. “I’ll say it right to the camera — stop it.”
The president-elect also did address the anti-Trump protests in a pair of Twitter posts, writing in the first, “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!”
Later, he wrote, “Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud!”
Here’s a sampling of some of the incidents that have flared up since the election:
Swastika Scrawled on Wall in Upstate New York
Police in Wellsville are investigating after someone wrote a “racially biased” message, and drew a swastika symbol, on the back wall of a community softball league’s dugout, a Wellsville Village Police Department spokesman tells PEOPLE.
“It said ‘Make America White Again,’ ” the spokesman says, adding that a swastika symbol was drawn as well. The incident was reported to police on Wednesday at about 12:30 p.m., he says.
“A group of volunteers from the community and from that softball league quickly came down and painted over it,” he tells PEOPLE.
There are currently no suspects in the incident, he adds.
Middle School Children Chant “Build the Wall”
A video has surfaced showing students at Michigan’s Royal Oak Middle School repeating the phrase on Wednesday during their lunch period.
“Tears were running down my face,” student Josie Ramon, who is Mexican-American, told The Detroit News. “I was so upset. A friend went to the bathroom crying. Everybody was chanting along with it. She was scared. She looked really upset. I felt really bad for her.”
Royal Oak Schools superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin wrote in a statement on Thursday: “We are committed to providing a safe, secure and supportive learning environment for all students. We addressed this incident when it occurred, we are addressing it today. We are working with our students to help them understand the impact of their words and actions on others in their school community.”
Lewis-Lakin added that the incident has sparked concern among parents worried about their children’s safety.
“Trump!” Written on Door of Muslim Prayer Room at New York University
Students at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering in Brooklyn found the president-elect’s name written in erasable ink on the door to a Muslim prayer room for students Wednesday morning, a university spokeswoman tells PEOPLE.
“We called the [New York Police Department] and they came and investigated. They are investigating it as, what they’re calling, ‘criminal mischief,’ ” the spokeswoman says.
She adds that many in the NYU Tandon community rallied behind the school’s Muslim community on social media, showing “overwhelming” support for the community.
In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, university Dean K.R. Sreenivasan called the act a “means of intimidation” and called for “civility and mutual respect.”
“Anytime anyone violates this norm, it is an offense against us all: whatever our political or personal leanings, we should be mindful of this common courtesy to which I hold all of you — me included,” he wrote.
Black Doll Hung From Curtain Rod on New York College Campus
Hundreds of Canisius College students in Buffalo attended an “open session” on the campus after a black doll was found tied in an elevator and later photographed hanging from a curtain rod in a meme containing “inflammatory language involving Donald Trump,” school President John J. Hurley said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
Hurley said the doll was tied in the elevator as a prank, but the incident became racially charged when the toy was taken back to a residence hall, “hung from the curtain rod in the room and participants took photos of it. One student created a meme with language about ‘Trump fans’ and sent it to friends.”
“The acts occurred, serious harm resulted, and there must be consequences,” he wrote in the statement. “The principal participants in the residence hall room incident have been voluntarily suspended from the college immediately, pending an adjudication of their disciplinary cases.”
Racist Graffiti Found in Minnesota High School Bathroom
Students at a Minnesota high school say they’re afraid to go to class after racist, pro-Trump graffiti was discovered in a campus bathroom.
“F—all n—” the graffiti read, along with #Whitesonly, #WhiteAmerica and Trump. “I went in and looked on the bathroom door and honestly was in shock,” Junior Moses Karngbaye told CBS Minnesota. “That’s the first time I honestly felt like crying at school.”
A Maple Grove Senior High School spokeswoman has confirmed the incident to PEOPLE. In a statement, the school said that it is “horrified” by the incident, adding that it will take “swift and appropriate action” following an investigation to determine who wrote the graffiti.
WCCO first reported the incident.
Nazi-Related Graffiti in Philadelphia
Police were called to a storefront in South Philadelphia on Wednesday and found a swastika symbol and Trump’s name written on the window, according to Philly.com.
NBC Philadelphia reports that the incident occurred along Broad and Wharton streets, and also included the Nazi salute “Sieg Heil.”
A Twitter video surfaced showing a man cleaning the graffiti from the window.
High School Student Hands Out Handmade “Deportation” Letters
A boy at Redding, California’s, Shasta Union High School handed out papers with the word “deportation” written at the top to at least six students “from a variety of ethnicities,” Superintendent Jim Cloney tells PEOPLE.
The unidentified boy made a video of the incident and posted it to social media, telling school officials that he did it “to be funny.” Cloney said school officials found out about the video Thursday morning.
“It should go without saying, but we don’t think this sort of behavior is funny nor reflective of the culture at Shasta High, and behavior that is racially or culturally insensitive will not be allowed to go on at any of our schools,” Cloney says.
Although he would not comment on what action is being taken against the boy, Cloney says “we will apply whatever discipline is appropriate and available to us to ensure this behavior is not repeated.”
Black Freshman at the University Pennsylvania Added to Racist Social Media Group
Several Black students at the school were involuntarily added to a chat on the GroupMe messaging app containing racial slurs and even a “daily lynching” calendar, The Washington Post reports.
“The account contains violent, racist and thoroughly repugnant images and messages,” a university spokesman to the Post.
“The university is taking every step possible to address both the source of the racist material and the impact it has had on Black students on campus,” the spokesman said.
The school’s student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian, first reported the news, noting that Black students were added to the chat group called “Mud Men.” One group member posted a photo of people hanging from a tree. Others made statements in support of Trump along with racist slurs.
“Black Lives Don’t Matter” Written on Wall in North Carolina
Durham community members scrubbed away a message written on a wall that said, “Black Lives Don’t Matter and Neither Does Your Votes,” according to WNCN.
“You want to have a good day … But it’s really hard to do that when the area you’re in has stuff like this,” one resident told the station.
Residents told ABC News that the graffiti appeared Wednesday night and Trump-related messages were written in other areas of the city.
Gay Pride Rainbow Flags Reportedly Burned in New York
Greg Ventura and Lois Graham, both of Rochester, told local news outlets that they found their pride flags burned less than a day after the election.
“It’s okay to hate now,” Graham told Rochester First. “That’s the message that’s being spread now, and I know a lot of people that are scared.”
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Ventura, who came out to his family and friends as a gay man earlier this year, said he found the searing flag on his porch Wednesday night, according to the Democrat & Chronicle.
“It doesn’t feel good that I have this newfound confidence ripped away from me,” he told the publication.
The incidents, both reported on Wednesday, are being investigated as arson, police told the outlet. “No suspects are currently in custody,” police said on Thursday.