US Election 2016: Are hate crimes spiking after Trump's victory?

  • 11 November 2016
tweet Image copyright @sarahkendzior

Dozens of reports of alleged hate crimes have surfaced on social media in the wake of the election of Donald Trump.

"I was sitting down in the library in my school and a very big man wearing a Trump shirt walks up behind me. I start to turn around but before I can see who's there, a hand is on my head... attempting to push my hijab back."

The Muslim student at the University of New Mexico, who spoke to BBC Trending, says she ducked out of the way of her attacker.

"I told him that he has every right to believe what he wants and he can say whatever he wants but as soon as he puts his hands on me, then things get serious," she says. "He then walked away saying 'I'm going to sit down before you throw a grenade at me.'"

The incident is just one of dozens of alleged attacks motivated by religious and race hate which have been reported and shared on social media since Tuesday's election. In many cases it's impossible to verify the allegations and what connection, if any, they have with Tuesday's vote.

In the case of the student in New Mexico, she reported the attack to university authorities but not to the police.

"I decided not to press charges because I'm not here to expose anyone," she says. "He made a mistake and hopefully with all the publicity that this situation got, he has learned his lesson."

University officials say they are investigating a number of incidents on the campus, but cannot comment on individual cases due to federal law.

In the aftermath of Tuesday's election there have been a number of credible reports of hate crimes:

Violence and threats against Trump supporters have also been reported.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption A still from the viral Facebook video showing men beating and robbing someone they accuse of being a Trump supporter after a traffic accident

But beware - there are also hoaxes and false stories circulating. In Louisiana, a student who said she was robbed by two men who shouted racial obscenities turned out to have made the story up. And old stories about hate crimes and assaults against minorities are making the rounds on social media, masquerading as breaking news.

Several social media activists and accounts were sharing stories of incidents around the country, and individual users were also posting their own stories, some of which were shared thousands of times:

Image copyright @ManikRathee

The cause and effect around current events and hate crimes is complicated. In the UK, the Home Office recorded a 41% jump in racial and religious abuse in the month following the EU referendum in June. The sharp increase declined in August but has "remained at a higher level" than before the Brexit vote, the Home Office said. But major events also boost awareness of hate crimes and awareness of how to report them, along with media attention, and that could account for some of the spike.

It's far too soon to tell to whether a similar increase will be recorded after the US election, and how large it might be. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation tracks hate crime statistics and releases an annual report, but the one covering this year won't come out until late 2017.

Blog by Mike Wendling

More US election coverage from BBC Trending: Michelle Obama in 2020?

Image copyright Getty Images

The potential first shots of the next campaign were fired online in the hours after Donald Trump's victory became clear when hundreds of thousands took to social media to urge Michelle Obama to run for President in 2020. READ MORE

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