SPLC: Two Northwest States in Top-10 List of Post-Election Hate Incidents, But Numbers May Not Show the Whole Problem 

click to enlarge - Oregon and Washington were in the top 10 states for post-election hate incidents. -  - SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Oregon and Washington were in the top 10 states for post-election hate incidents.
click to enlarge - More than half of the hate incidents took place in public spaces, at K-12 schools and workplaces. -  - SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • More than half of the hate incidents took place in public spaces, at K-12 schools and workplaces.
A report issued Nov. 29 by the Southern Poverty Law Center has some unflattering news for two Idaho border states.

The report, "Ten Days After: Harassment and Intimidation in the Aftermath of the Election," uncovered 867 hate incidents in 46 states within the week and a half after the Nov. 8 election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. The president-elect, who won based on electoral votes but lost the popular vote by more than 2 million ballots, continually stoked racist, misogynistic and anti-immigrant sentiment during his campaign, drawing enthusiastic support from organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, American Nazi Party, and assorted other white nationalist and anti-immigrant groups.

While Trump has called for an end to hate incidents, stating in a recent "60 Minutes" interview that those perpetrating such acts should "stop it," according to SPLC's numbers, Idaho has experienced two hate incidents following the election. Neighboring states Washington and Oregon both made the top 10 with 48 and 33 incidents, respectively.

Adjusted for population size, the number of hate incidents in those states would rank them even higher among other top-10 entries like California (with 99 incidents), New York (69), Texas (57), Massachusetts (42) and Michigan (40).

Community Council of Idaho spokeswoman Leticia Ruiz said the report draws attention to the rising problem of hate incidents following the election, but questioned the data behind SPLC's conclusions.

"That's not the representation we have," she said, referring to the two reported incidents in Idaho. "These things are happening every day."

In agriculture-heavy regions of Idaho, people living in areas with high concentrations of migrant or undocumented workers may experience hateful language or actions motivated by their race or immigrant status, but never tell law enforcement, Ruiz said.

"We know our people don't go out and report incidents because they fear being deported or there will be additional consequences to approaching authorities," she said.

Incidents counted in the SPLC report were either reported to the organization, culled from social media or gleaned from press accounts, and cover a broad range of harassing behavior—from intimidation and property crimes to physical violence. They don't include online interactions.

click to enlarge - Hate incidents were motivated by a variety of factors. -  - SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Hate incidents were motivated by a variety of factors.
According to the report, incidents were motivated by a variety of factors, from race and immigration status to religion, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity, and political affiliation. Most occurred in public spaces, at schools and universities, and workplaces. Targets of harassment and crimes tended toward immigrants, African-Americans, Jews, members of the LGBT community and Muslims. A small number of reported incidents were directed against Trump supporters.

The report showed incidents tapering off in the days following the election: there were 202 reported on Nov. 9; by Nov. 18, there were 26.

For its part, SPLC stated on Twitter the data in its recent report is likely "just a fraction of election-related hate." A representative of the organization, who declined to be named or quoted for this story, said both incidents in Idaho were direct submissions to SPLC.

The first was reported Nov. 12 after a student at a high school debate event in Pocatello was called names and physically attacked for bringing an anti-Trump poster to the event. The second took place Nov. 17 at a Boise workplace, where employees were being briefed by a manager. One employee, referring to a fellow employee who is Latino, said, "I want to see Mario's Green Card," followed by comments about "building a wall."

The most recent hate crime report issued by the Idaho State Police recorded 22 hate crime incidents in 2015—a 15.4 percent decline from 2014 and part of a five-year downward trend in such crimes. That same report, however, showed a marked increase in religiously motivated hate crimes and crimes based on sexual orientation. 

According to the Boise Police Department, there were three reports of malicious harassment and no arrests during the period covered by the SPLC report. The Gem State's malicious harassment law, passed by the Idaho Legislature in 1983, was designed specifically to address the white supremacist movement then active in Idaho.

Underreporting crimes or harassment motivated by race, sex, gender, LGBT or economic status is nothing new. Ruiz said the absence of reliable data or a single place to report hate incidents is a source of continuing frustration.

"There's nothing in place that says, 'I can go to this organization and do something about it,'" she said said.

Four states—Hawaii, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota—reported zero hate incidents in the SPLC report. The national organization has created a form for reporting hate incidents and invited social media users to report hate incidents online with the hashtag #ReportHate. A separate form has been created for K-12 educators wishing to report incidents at schools.

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