Racist graffiti greets Trump win across USA

In Wellsville, N.Y., a massive swastika is scrawled on a park wall: "Make America White Again."

In Maple Grove, Minn., messages in a high school bathroom include "#gobacktoafrica," "#whitesonly" and "#whiteamerica" — along with "Trump Train."

At the University of Vermont, students found a Donald Trump campaign sign painted with a swastika three doors down from the campus Hillel.

Experts and educators say an alarming succession of racist behavior, graffiti and crime since Election Day can be linked to Trump's victory. And they say the Republican president-elect could play a crucial role in curbing the disquieting conduct.

Carlos Wiley, director of the Paul Robeson Cultural Center at Penn State University, said he believes the attacks represent a backlash from people who suppressed racial hatred for years during the Obama presidency. Now they feel it is safe to openly display their contempt.

"People looked at the way protesters were manhandled at Trump rallies, and they think 'oh, if someone disagrees with us, we can do those things as well,' " Wiley said.

Enid Logan, who teaches sociology and African-American studies at the University of Minnesota, says Trump's victory legitimized white supremacists' point of view.

"There was nothing subtle with Trump — extreme vetting and ideological testing of Muslims, deporting all undocumented people, Mexicans are rapists and murders," she said. "And he won. White people supported him. So this kind of thinking isn't as marginal as we thought."

In San Marcos, Texas, Texas State University police are trying to determine who is responsible for a series of ominous, threatening fliers posted around campus.

"Now that our man Trump is elected and Republicans own both the Senate and the House — time to organize tar & feather VIGILANTE SQUADS and go arrest and torture those deviant university leaders spouting off all this diversity garbage," one of the fliers read.

The fliers were found in bathrooms around the campus about 30 miles south of Austin, and images of them quickly spread on social media. They featured a photo of several men clad in camouflage and holding rifles and claimed diversity was a code word for "white genocide."

University President Denise Trauth issued a statement calling for "constructive dialogue" in the wake of the contentious election.

"Discourse is fundamental to the academic enterprise, and this university strives to protect it," the statement said. "Our aim should be to better understand that which causes divisions among us and to work toward strengthening our bond as a university community."

Wiley agrees with Trauth and said Trump could lead the discourse.

"He doesn't need to say anything about specific incidents, but he should say they are occurring and they should stop," Wiley said. "That they aren't part of the America he wants to lead."

Logan has her doubts.

"All that red meat he threw out to his base during the campaign, I'm not sure he believes it," she said. "But it was incredibly powerful and it worked. Why would he pivot now?"

In Minnesota, officials at Maple Grove Senior High launched an investigation into the racist graffiti, which has been widely shared on Twitter.

"The tweet you may have seen of a racist message scrawled in a school bathroom is real, and we are horrified by it," said Barbara Olson, Osseo area schools community relations director.

She said such racist messages endanger students and staff and create a climate that is not conducive to learning.

"This incident is additional evidence of the pressing need in our schools, our community and our nation to find ways to talk about race constructively and respectfully," Olson said.

Matt Vogel, executive director of the University of Vermont's campus Jewish group, said it was unclear who had marked the Trump sign with the swastika or why. "For many Jewish students, no matter how they voted, seeing that symbol of hate is a very painful thing for them," Vogel said.

In California, San Jose State University said a woman lost her balance and choked when a man attempted to rip her headscarf away.

In Louisiana, a report of another racial incident was later debunked. ‚ÄčA Louisiana college student, 18, acknowledged she fabricated a report that she was assaulted and robbed of her wallet and Muslim headscarf by two men, one of whom she described as wearing a white “Trump” hat, police said Thursday.

The Lafayette Police Department said in a statement that it is no longer investigating the claims, which were made within hours of Trump’s presidential victory.

The presidents of both schools issued statements referencing the "contentious" election and urging their communities to respect diversity as the nation moves forward.

It may take awhile. Social media is full of examples of hate. And Trump foes have joined the chaos online and on the streets, where shouts of "Not my president" and profanity are appearing on signs and buildings.

Wiley said he was encouraged by Trump's conciliatory remarks during his acceptance speech. But he fears that if Trump fails to quickly make good on promises such as building a wall that Mexico will pay for, his backers will grow angry. And, he said, take it out on "populations" they don't like.

"We need to allow people to mourn a little bit, to contemplate what their future looks like with a Donald Trump presidency," Wiley said. "Then we need to have serious conversations about humanity, about civility.

Contributing: Rick Jervis, USA TODAY, Jake Kroll, KARE-TV in Minneapolis, Claire Taylor, Jess Aloe, Burlington Free Press, Associated Press


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment