This Week In Hate: October 5 – Hate Crimes, Racial Profiling, and the Link to Systemic Discrimination

Prepared by Radha Modi

Between November 8, 2016 and October 3, 2017, there have been 179 documented hate incidents against those who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, South Asian, Arab, or Middle Eastern compared to the total of 130 from the year prior to the election of Donald Trump. The increase in hate violence during the last eleven months is symptomatic of the normalization and sanctioning of hate rhetoric by those in positions of power and influence. Concurrent with the rise in hate incidents and normalization of hate rhetoric, there is also further deepening of institutionalized violence such as racial profiling and discrimination against multiple marginalized communities.

Hate incidents fall under three broad categories of: 1) property damage due to vandalism, robbery, arson, or other forms of destruction, 2) physical assaults such as pulling of attire, shoving, or punching, and 3) verbal and written assaults either in person or through email or flyers. Of the 179 hate incidents against those who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, South Asian, Arab, or Middle Eastern, 63 are incidents of physical assaults, 71 are incidents of verbal/written assaults, and 45 are incidents of property damage. The most notable instance of physical assault occurred in Houston, TX, on September 21, 2017. A Lyft driver assumed to be Pakistani and Muslim was verbally and physically assaulted by the passenger, Matthew Dunn.” The assault left the driver traumatized and fearful of his life. The anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment is characteristic of most hate incidents captured in SAALT’s database. While verbal or written assaults are absent of physical violence, they are equally traumatic for victims. On September 15, 2017, a white supremacist wearing a “F**k ISIS” t-shirt threatened to kill the patrons of a hookah lounge in Lake Forest, California. Then three days later on the 18th, vandals spray-painted multiple hate messages on a store owned by an Indian family. One alarming message stated: “Kill All Hindus.”

Concurrently, the violence that is happening on the streets is also institutionalized through racial profiling and discrimination of those who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, South Asian, Arab, or Middle Eastern. Racial profiling is a common institutionalized tactic used by law enforcement that unjustly targets and terrorizes communities of color. The ACLU reports that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized and searched the phones of the Alasaad family, who are Muslim and have American Citizenship, without a warrant and held the family for hours at the U.S.-Canadian border. More recently, a Muslim man was arrested, and his family was detained for three hours when he tried to deposit a check at his local bank in Wichita, Kansas. The family feels traumatized by the encounter and worries about their safety in Kansas.

As hate violence on the streets and the targeting of Muslims by law enforcement are routinized, the systemic discrimination of those who identify or are perceived as Muslim also deepens in major institutions such as education, labor, or housing. A Facebook page selling and renting homes in LaSalle, Illinois, up until recently asked members interested in joining the Facebook group: “Are you Muslim or terrorist?” A private company, Verly Pro Moving Labor, set up the Facebook page and after complaints took down the question. Also, a university professor, forced to resign, is suing his former employer, University of Central Florida, on grounds that he suffered discrimination as a Black and Muslim faculty member. These are just some of the examples that demonstrate how targeting of marginalized communities is criminalized and institutionalized.