In this week’s roundup: fake Trump-related hate and real Trump-related hate.
The story was a familiar one: 19-year-old Adwoa Lewis told police in Baldwin, New York, earlier this month that she was driving home when she was confronted by a group of teenagers who shouted, “Trump 2016,” and stated that she “didn’t belong here,” according to the Nassau County Police Department.
Lewis also told police that she woke up the next morning to find her car’s tire had been slashed and a note had been left on her car saying, “Go home.”
But last week, Lewis was charged with making a false statement to police. Detectives concluded that Lewis had made up the whole thing. She admitted she wrote the note herself.
While Lewis’ claims appear bogus, there have been scores of documented hate crimes and hate incidents in which people have invoked the name of President Donald Trump in the last couple of years. And several of those have resulted in hate crime charges, some of which led to convictions or guilty pleas.
As we documented in our investigation Trumping Hate earlier this year, we identified more than 150 reports of Trump-themed taunts and attacks stretching across 39 states over the past year and a half. We found these cases using the Documenting Hate database, compiled by ProPublica.
While it was not possible to verify the authenticity of every incident reported to Documenting Hate, we outlined cases of hate crimes in which Trump’s name was invoked that led to hate crime charges.
Those included the case of Robin Rhodes, who was indicted on hate crime charges last year after attacking a Muslim employee at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport and yelling, “Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you.” And the case of Brandon Ray Davis, who avoided an initial hate crime charge by pleading guilty to lesser charges after he attacked a gay couple in Key West, Florida, and shouted, “You’re in Trump country now.”
While reporting Trumping Hate (which you should listen to, if you haven’t yet), I also spoke with dozens of people who reported being the victim of hate spewed in Trump’s name. Victims sometimes broke down crying in those interviews, and almost everybody I spoke to repeated verbatim claims they had made often months before.
There’s also data suggesting that hate crimes increase in the wake of Trump’s negative comments against minorities. A paper by researchers at the University of Warwick in England found that Trump’s antagonistic Twitter use probably has spurred hate crimes.
The researchers found:
Trump’s Tweets on Islam-related topics are highly correlated with anti-Muslim hate crime after, but not before the start of his presidential campaign, and are uncorrelated with other types of hate crimes.
Here’s how San Diegan Melissa Johnson, the recipient of racist comments from a Trump supporter, described the current atmosphere under the president to me earlier this year:
Trump is giving these people so much power, so that they feel as though they’re also running the country. These horrible, ugly people now have a voice. And I’m so tired of hearing it because I’ve heard it my entire life. But it was whispers before. Now they’re yelling.
The week in hate crimes
In Gonzales, Louisiana, 60-year-old Robert Ray was arrested on various charges last week, including a hate crime, after allegedly telling a 19-year-old Latina woman to “go back to Mexico.”
Local media reported that Ray got into a fight with the woman’s family and punched her father and hit him with a boot. The local CBS affiliate also reported that Ray previously was arrested during a similar incident in 2017:
Ray reportedly approached a man and a young girl with a gun in the Gonzales Walmart parking lot and told them, “This is what you Mexicans deserve.” But those charges were dropped when the alleged victim did not show up for court.
In Guthrie, Oklahoma, 75-year-old Jerry Heilman got into a dispute with his neighbor last week over change for a $20 bill he had given her to buy him cigarettes, local media reported. The argument escalated, and Heilman used a racist slur against his neighbor, who called police. Heilman was charged with a hate crime.
And in Madison, Wisconsin, on Friday, 61-year-old Ronald E. Duell was charged with a hate crime after police said he repeatedly used a racial slur against an African American police officer who had been called to help him.
The local CBS affiliate reported that police were called to a bar to deal with Duell after he told patrons that he had a gun, that his son had just died and that and was going to kill himself. When the officers arrived, Duell told them that he didn’t have a gun or a son who had just died.
Then he allegedly launched into his racist tirade and threatened to kill the officer.
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