Hate crimes jump after election


A woman wearing a headscarf that's mistaken for a hijab, has her window shattered in Fremont.

At a high school in Danville, someone wrote "whites" and "colored" over urinals in a bathroom.

And swastikas were spray-painted on a garage door in San Francisco.

These incidents are part of a rise in hate crimes reported in the Bay Area and across the country.  The uptick, authorities say, can at least in part be linked to the anti-immigrant rhetoric associated with Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

"Right after the presidential election, we saw throughout the country in the state, and also locally, a surge in hate-related speech and hate-related action toward community members," said Alameda County Assistant District Attorney Teresa Drenick.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes, says it's documented more than a thousand hate crimes after the election.

"Our concern is that it is the rhetoric of elected officials, politicians and others that contribute to hate in our country," said Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic relations, SF Bay Area.

 And even before Election Day, California's Department of Justice says there was a nearly 50 percent increase in hate crimes based on religion from 2014 to 2015. During that time, anti-Muslim cases jumped from 18 cases to 40.

"We're seeing that people are feeling emboldened to be able to say and act upon these views," said Seth Brysk, Anti-Defamation League's Central Pacific regional director. "It's one thing to hold a point of view. It's another thing to act out on it and to use that as an inspiration for criminal activity."

While anecdotally there's been a rise in hate crimes, these incidents are often underreported. Some victims are scared of retaliation. Others may not be in the country legally.

"We are not concerned with their immigration status," said George Gascón, San Francisco district attorney. "If they are being victimized, if they know someone else is being victimized, we want to know about it."

Gascón and Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley have set up hotlines to report hate crimes.

"We are here to listen, to prosecute a case if necessary, to refer to the appropriate law enforcement agency if that's the route that needs to be taken," Drenick said.

But when hate crime charges are filed, they don't always stick..

Denise Slader took a plea deal for throwing coffee at and hitting a Muslim man at an East Bay park. In exchange for her plea, a hate-crime charge was dismissed.

In Contra Costa County, three men are awaiting trial for murder in an El Sobrante shooting that killed William Sims. Prosecutors originally filed a hate-crime charge, but a grand jury did not include that in a more recent indictment.

Colin Cooper is the attorney for one of the men.

"It's important for people not to jump to conclusions about anything, especially something as prejudicial and volatile as a hate-crime accusation," Cooper said.

And advocates agree it will take a lot of work to push back against hatred.

"We will not let anyone turn our country into a racist, white supremacist heaven for people that outcasts LGBT individuals, immigrants, Muslims, blacks and others," Billoo said.





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