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Several of America’s most prominent white supremacists had a terrible week.
As anticipated in a previous Hate Report, right-wing protesters clashed violently with left-wing groups and anti-fascists during a rally organized by President Donald Trump supporters in Berkeley, California, over the weekend.
A viral video shot during the riot shows a young woman being punched in the face by a man who has been identified by multiple media sources as Nathan Damigo, a military veteran and student at California State University Stanislaus.
Damigo is from San Jose, California, and is the founder of Identity Evropa, a white supremacist group that has recently been active in handing out fliers at American colleges. He told the Los Angeles Times in December that he was influenced by the book “My Awakening” by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, while in prison for armed robbery following his second tour of duty.
Damigo hasn’t commented publicly on the incident, but he is currently under investigation by his university, the San Diego Union Tribune reports. Meanwhile, the original video of the punch has been viewed almost 1 million times on YouTube. Supporters of the woman have launched a fundraising campaign for her and are calling for Damigo’s immediate arrest.
Far-right websites and Damigo’s supporters are praising his sucker-punch and calling it a justified act of self-defense.
Meanwhile, Matthew Heimbach, who leads another racist youth group, filed a lawsuit on Monday claiming that he was acting on Trump’s orders when he attacked a young African American woman at a March 2016 rally.
Heimbach was caught on video at the Kentucky rally shoving a young woman, Kashiya Nwanguma, and screaming at her while in the background Trump shouts, “Get out,” and boasts that he is going to “repeal Obamacare.”
Nwanguma and two other protesters are suing Heimbach. In turn, Heimbach is suing Trump:
DEFENDANT herein acted pursuant to the directives and requests of DONALD J. TRUMP and DONALD J. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT lnc. and any liability must be shifted to one or both of them.
In July, Heimbach was charged with harassment by Louisville police.
Damigo and Heimbach aren’t the only white supremacists in hot water this week.
Andrew Anglin, who runs a neo-Nazi website that is a daily torrent of racist and anti-Semitic blog posts, is being sued by a Jewish woman after he directed his readers to unleash an “old fashioned troll storm” on her.
Last year, Tanya Gersh protested the presence of white supremacist Richard Spencer in her Montana hometown and urged his mother to sell property there. After the Spencers’ accused her of extortion, Anglin began writing about Gersh and told his online followers to go after her and her 12-year-old son.
Weeks of abuse of Gersh and her family ensued. The family all received violent threats in the form of social media messages, emails and phone messages, BuzzFeed reported:
In emails to her personal account, Gersh says she received messages that read “Ratfaced criminals who play with fire tend to get thrown in the oven” and “This is the goylash. You remember the last goylash, don’t you Tanya? Merry Christmas, you Christ killing Jew.” She also says she received threatening messages to her work account that read, “Death to Tanya.”
They also went after her son:
Twitter users began to target the 12-year-old with tweets – one tweet read, “psst kid, there’s a free Xbox One inside the oven” and included a photo of an oven.
Anglin also is being sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center over the same incident.
The full story of Gersh’s ordeal is outlined in this story in the Guardian. “Sometimes, when I answered the phone, all I heard were gunshots,” she says.
Spencer didn’t exactly have a great week either.
Last week, he was briefly disinvited from a speech at Auburn University in Alabama. The university canceled the event because officials were worried it would result in physical violence or property damage. On Tuesday, however, a judge ruled the university couldn’t cancel the speech, on free speech grounds, and the event went ahead as planned.
Spencer was heckled throughout much of his talk, which was somewhat overshadowed anyway by clashes between protesters and police outside the hall where it was taking place, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday:
His Auburn speech itself was a kind of rambling discourse on white identity and meaning in a modern, “global, capitalist, consumer” society – often building to a shouted crescendo that provoked applause from his supporters and hoots and boos from others.
These four high-profile white supremacists all share another thing in common: They have all been passionate supporters of President Trump. (Though Spencer has notably soured on Trump in recent weeks.)
A deadly attack by a possible ‘black separatist’
The most violent and tragic hate-related attack of the week occurred in Fresno, California, where Kori Ali Muhammad, an African American man, gunned down three white men in the city’s downtown on Tuesday morning.
Los Angeles police are investigating the shooting as a hate crime.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Muhammad as a “possible black separatist:”
Muhammad is said to be homeless. He is also an aspiring rapper, who goes by the name B-God Mac Sun. He has music on his YouTube about white devils, annihilating enemies and watching them bleed. His Facebook has similar themes, with homemade memes calling various Caucasians “grafted white devil skunks.” Another meme depicts the Great Mahdi Fard Muhammad, the founder of the Nation of Islam is destroying the “grafted white devil skunks.”
Muhammad surrendered to police and is in custody.
So. Many. Swastikas.
Since last week’s Hate Report, which focused on anti-Semitic graffiti during Passover, we’ve learned of no fewer than seven more instances in seven different states:
- On April 12, swastikas were found spray-painted on old barns in Loundoun County, Virginia.
- On April 13, swastikas were found painted in a park in Levittown, Pennsylvania.
- And at an elementary school in New Jersey.
- On April 14, somebody rearranged rocks outside a Houston high school that normally spell out the school’s initials, to form a swastika.
- And someone scrawled a swastika on a bus stop one block from a synagogue in Eugene, Oregon.
- On Monday morning, somebody spray-painted swastikas (and “Trump”) on eight cars in the Seattle suburb of Edmonds.
- And on the same day, somebody painted a swastika on a road sign near Andover, Massachusetts.
Continuing attacks on American Muslims
The University of Texas at Dallas has launched an investigation after several copies of the Quran were found dumped in university toilets, the Independent reported April 14.
“It’s definitely saddening and a little disturbing as well,” Mohammad Syed, president of the university’s Muslim Association, told NBC 5. “It’s something that we do not expect to happen, especially at this campus.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group, received a package that included a page of the Quran smeared with what appeared to be feces, the Huffington Post reported Monday.
In San Diego, someone spray-painted an anti-Muslim message on the back door of a local business. The owner of the business is a military veteran.
And there was at least one physical attack too:
In Dunwoody, Georgia, a man ran up to a 14-year-old Muslim girl at a mall on Friday and grabbed her hijab while allegedly shouting, “terrorist,” local media reported.
Two more attacks on American minorities
An African American man was badly beaten in San Diego over the weekend by a Latino man who called him a racist name, the San Diego Union Tribune reported.
And in New York City, a 35-year-old Sikh cab driver was assaulted by a man who ripped his turban off, the New York Daily News reported on Monday.
“I’m so afraid. I don’t want to work,” Singh told the Daily News at his home in Ozone Park, Queens.
Fighting Back: Action on hate
While it was a busy week for hate-related incidents, it was also a notable week for organizations and individuals fighting back against hate.
In the wake of a spate of hate crimes targeting their community, American Sikhs have launched a $1 million campaign to educate the public about their faith.
The campaign’s website features stories about Sikhs who are living and thriving in America. And a section called “values” describes some of the contributions Sikhs have made to the country:
Sikhs have lived in America for more than 150 years. We helped build the Transcontinental Railroad, served valiantly in every major world war, stood at the forefront of civil rights struggles, and were among the first responders on 9/11. Now, we are sharing our story.
America’s LGBTQ media have been galvanized by the election of Trump. That’s the theme of a longread in the Columbia Journalism Review on the state of the LGBTQ media in today’s America.
Here’s a snippet:
The past five months have illustrated the vital importance of LGBTQ media in US society, as these publications provided support, information, and comfort to a community forced to adapt to a drastically different political landscape. There’s an even greater responsibility to tell the stories of the marginalized, ones that might otherwise get left behind, in a news cycle dominated by Trump. And readers have responded by visiting LGBTQ media outlets more often and sticking around longer, editors tell CJR.
In New York, legislators want to make it illegal for people convicted of hate crimes to possess guns. An amendment proposed by state Sen. Daniel Squadron, D-Brooklyn, would make hate crimes a “serious offense” under the state’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act. The bill is currently being discussed in committee.
And the small city of Columbus, Indiana, has launched a form on its website to make it easier for its residents to report alleged hate crimes.
The idea behind the initiative is to get a feel for “the tenor of Columbus’ inclusiveness and acceptance, and in response to Indiana’s lack of a specific hate-crime law,” according to the local newspaper, The Republic.
Will Carless can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @willcarless.