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Michigan leads midwest in post-election hate incidents

Dec 2, 2016

The Southern Poverty Law Center released a new report showing that it received 40 hate incident complaints in the 10 days following the U.S. general election on Nov. 8, 2016.

Hate incidents are defined as acts of hostility directed at a person based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The center recorded 22 incidents in Ohio, 16 in Indiana, 25 in Illinois, and 13 in Wisconsin. There were 867 incidents nationwide.

Many hate incidents have been reported by the media in Michigan.

Mark Potok, a Senior Fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, says the bulk of the incidents are directly attributable to the Trump campaign.

"I do think President-elect Trump has to take responsibility for this. The vast majority of the violence we're seeing and the hate incidents are directly and clearly related to the Trump campaign," says Potok.

Potok says they attribute a large portion of the incidents to Trump's campaign because perpetrators have made the connection clear, often shouting, "Trump!" during the incident. 

The SPLC has documented some incidents of hate and violence targeting Trump supporters. Those account for 23 incidents nationwide out of 867. 

The other types of incidents break down as follows:

  • 32% directed against immigrants
  • 23% against African Americans
  • 6% against Muslims
  • 11% against LGBT people
  • 5% against women
  • 12% against Jews
  • 11% other

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights also gathers reports of hate or bias incidents, and it investigates those incidents and takes action, if appropriate.

MDCR communications director Vicki Levengood says her agency's numbers match the SPLC's, and that the 40 incidents documented in 10 days is more than three times the number of incident reports they would normally receive in a year.

"The reports that are coming in to us and to SPLC have spiked tremendously. The reality is that the sheer numbers and volumes of incidents we're seeing is unprecedented," says Levengood.

Levengood encourages anyone who has experienced an incident motivated by bias to report the insident to the MDCR and to law enforcement.

The MDCR takes complaints by phone at 1-800-482-3604, through its web site, by U.S. mail, or in person at one of its office locations in Detroit, Grand Rapids, or Lansing.