It is a well-documented fact that in the days after the presidential election, incidents of hate — speech, internet-based threats, or outright real-life violence — increased.
“In the immediate aftermath of the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) noticed a dramatic jump in hate violence and incidents of harassment and intimidation around the country. At the same time, a wave of incidents of bullying and other kinds of harassment washed over the nation’s K-12 schools,” wrote Mark Potok of the SPLC in the organization’s Intelligence Report under the title “The Trump Effect.”
“In its post-election first study, looking at harassment and intimidation in the first 10 days after Trump’s election, the SPLC counted 867 hate incidents, some of them amounting to hate crimes, around the country. It collected information from media reports, social media, and through a #ReportHate page set up on the SPLC website, excluding incidents found to be hoaxes….The results were disheartening….Incidents were reported in nearly every state. The largest portion (323 incidents) occurred on university campuses or in K-12 schools. The incidents were dominated by anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim incidents (together, 329), but included ones that were anti-black (187), anti-Semitic (100), anti-LGBT (95), anti-woman (40) and white nationalist (32). A small sliver of them (23) were anti-Trump, but the vast majority appeared to be celebrating his election victory.”
The SPLC wasn’t the only organization to take note of the rise in explicit expressions of hate. For instance, ThinkProgress, a news site offering a “progressive perspective,” has also been documenting acts of hate connected to the president’s rhetoric. In an article posted February 10, ThinkProgress Senior Religion Reporter Jack Jenkins wrote that “Three months ago, ThinkProgress began tracking the wave of hate incidents — threatening or harassing actions targeted against individuals because of their identities — that swept the country in the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States. Our goal was to investigate the severity of the vitriol, giving readers a heavily scrutinized, researched vision of what hate looks like in the Trump era. What we found disturbed us: Since November 9, 2016, we have tracked 261 hate incidents across the country.”
The most incidents of hate were reported in New York (33), California (27), Texas (25) and Florida (18), ThinkProgress noted. Although ThinkProgress pointed out that its methodology of counting incidents differed from that of the SPLC, resulting in a substantially lower total, “yet the number, scope, and severity of hate incidents remains staggering.”
It’s not surprising, then, that journalists and journalism organizations across the country have taken an interest in documenting the rise of hate. The nonprofit ProPublica began “Documenting Hate,” a project which the investigative news site explains, arose from the changing climate in America:
The 2016 election left many in America afraid — of intolerance and the violence it can inspire. The need for trustworthy facts on the details and frequency of hate crimes and other incidents born of prejudice has never been more urgent.
At this point, there is simply no reliable national data on hate crimes. And no government agency documents lower-level incidents of harassment and intimidation, such as online or real-life bullying. Documenting and understanding all of these incidents — from hate-inspired murders to anti-Semitic graffiti to racist online trolling — requires new, more creative approaches.
That’s why we have marshaled a national coalition of news organizations, civil-rights groups and technology companies intent on creating a database of reported hate crimes and bias incidents.
The growing list of organizations — more than 50 so far — contributing to the Documenting Hate project include The New York Times, The Guardian, PBS Newshour, The Boston Globe, NBC News, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, New America Media — and, as of this week, Weld: Birmingham’s Newspaper.
ProPublica has created a form to make it possible for witnesses or victims of hate incidents to report their experience. “Reports will be verified before entering a national database that will be made available, with privacy restrictions, to newsrooms and civil rights organizations across the country. The form is not a report to law enforcement or any government agency,” as New America Media reported in March. You can find the form at the top of our website as of the publication of this story.
In addition to providing the embedded tool, allowing Weld readers to feed their experiences into the collective database, Weld’s reporting on hate speech, violence, and other criminal activity will be made available to the national audience through the Documenting Hate initiative.
ProPublica pointed out that “with thousands of police departments failing to report alleged or even confirmed hate crimes to the FBI, we lack foundational information about how many such crimes occur in any given year, where they might occur the most and least, who the targets of such crimes tend to be, and how this has changed over time… It is impossible to tackle a problem without good data on which to base decisions….
“Documenting Hate will … help arm citizens and lawmakers with the facts. Reliable data will help local policymakers and law enforcement understand the problem; reporting will make it hard for them to ignore it.”
To access the reporting tool, see below.
To learn more about Documenting Hate, visit newamericamedia.org/2017/03/new-tool-helps-track-document-rise-in-hate-incidents.php and projects.propublica.org/graphics/hatecrimes#hatecrime-coverage.