Since the election the number of hate crimes has skyrocketed, thanks to the campaign rhetoric of Donald Trump and the belief apparently held by some of his supporters that the country just agreed we all hate the same people. One of the places where hate breeds is on social media, and now police are using things like Twitter and Facebook to look for signs of trouble.
The Los Angeles Times reports that police are using a variety of tactics to curb hate crimes, including sending undercover cops into different areas to see if they become the victims of hate. Police in Los Angeles and San Francisco are also monitoring social media for posts or comments that could lead to a hate crime.
Officials point out that mean or hurtful comments do not automatically constitute hate crimes. But San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck are asking people to report incidents of racist behavior, saying that even if a crime hasn’t been committed, speaking out can help fight the “normalization” of hate.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, that tracks incidents of hate, reports that there were over 700 hate crimes in the days following the election. Trump supporters, always whining that they are “victims,” will tell you they are being attacked, too, and they are right. Between the election and November 18 there were 701 recorded incidents of hate crimes tracked by the SPLC. Twenty-seven were against Trump supporters.
Over the weekend several California mosques received anonymous letters addressed to the “children of Satan.” Those letters said,
Your day of reckoning has arrived. There’s a new sheriff in town — President Donald Trump. He’s going to cleanse America and make it shine again. And, he’s going to start with you Muslims.
When asked about incidents of hate being perpetrated by his supporters, Trump looked straight into the camera and said, “Stop it.” He should have added that it was the least he could do, because it certainly was.
Hate crimes tend to increase when times are bad and many people are looking for a scapegoat for their problems. So it’s not surprising that they have been increasing over the past few years. But Trump’s campaign has put hate on steroids, often fueled by his own rhetoric in speeches and tweets. Maybe a good Twitter account for police to follow when looking for posts and comments that could inspire hate would be the one belonging to @RealDonaldTrump.