Hate Crimes

According to the FBI, a hate crime is “a criminal offense against a person or property [like murder, arson, or vandalism] motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

According to the American Bar Association, hate speech is speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits. Hate speech is often a part of hate crimes, either in instances like vandalism or threatening language that accompanies violence.

It is a common misconception that there is a hate speech exception to the First Amendment. This is untrue. Hate speech is fully protected under the third clause of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. 

Hate speech has been prosecuted when it is classified as “fighting words,” which are likely to provoke an immediate altercation; threats of illegal conduct or incitement; and hate speech that creates a hostile environment (Washington Post, 05/07/15). The FBI directly connects hate speech and hate crimes to domestic terrorism: “groups that preach hatred and intolerance can plant the seed of terrorism here in our country.”

Agencies and organizations that monitor hate speech and hate crimes include local police jurisdictions, the Federal Bureau of Investigation Civil Rights Program, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.  All of these groups agree that hate crimes have spiked since the November 2016 election. Many of the hate crimes documented post-election invoke Trump’s name or key parts of his election talking points. In 2015, the Intelligence Project and Southern Poverty Law Center reported 892 active hate groups (an increase from 784 in 2014). The most numerous groups were the Ku Klux Klan (190), Black Separatist (180), Racist Skinhead (95), White Nationalist (95), Neo-Nazi (94). By the end of 2016, that number had increased to 917 active hate groups

The attached timeline does not attempt to capture every single hate crime incident. See the Southern Poverty Law Center for these data. Instead, the timeline captures large scale events, such as waves of bomb threats at Jewish community centers, specific incidents that make national headlines, and those events with a direct connection to Trump, either because of the specifics of the case or because of Trump's response. 

Some examples:

See also: Anti-Semitism, Racism.




Trump’s behavior incites and condones hate crimes and hate speech in the US. He is being advised by Steve Bannon and Charles “Chuck” Johnson, both of whom have deep ties to the white supremacist movement in the US. He is supported by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups in this country. Trump’s team has repeatedly minimized the upsurge in hate crimes and has shown no inclination to actively attempt to quell the violent speech and actions inspired by Trump. Members of conservative and alt-right media groups claim wide spread fraud in the hate crime results. During an interview for 60 Minutes in November 2016, Lesley Stahl pressed Trump on the increased incidence of hate crimes. He responded: "I hate to hear that.” Stahl asked if he had anything to say to the perpetrators. Trump said, “Don't do it…I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.”

2016.02.25 David Duke: Voting against Trump is 'treason to your heritage'

2016.02.25 Anti Defamation League to Donald Trump: Distance Yourself from White Supremacists and Disavow Their Ideology

2016.02.28 In CNN interview with Jake Tapper, Trump says he won’t denounce David Duke or the KKK.

2016.11.02 Ku Klux Klan newspaper officially endorses Trump for president, saying "While Trump wants to make America great again, we have to ask ourselves, 'What made America great in the first place?’…The short answer to that is simple. America was great not because of what our forefathers did — but because of who our forefathers were…America was founded as a White Christian Republic. And as a White Christian Republic it became great.”

2016.11.08 Trump receives Twitter support from David Duke, the leader of the Ku Klux Klan

2016.11.18 Andrew Anglin of the White Supremacist website The Daily Stormer said about Trump’s cabinet picks, “Honestly, I didn’t even expect this to all come together so beautifully. It’s like we’re going to get absolutely everything we wanted…Basically, we are looking at a Daily Stormer Dream Team in the Trump administration.”

2016.11.18 David Duke tweets his enthusiasm for several of Trump's cabinet nominees: Stephen Bannon, Michael Flynn, and Jeff Sessions


When Trump directs negative comments at specific people, they are immediately targeted with threats and hate speech. 

2015.08.09 Trump tweets negative comments about Megyn Kelly after the first GOP debate. She is targeted with death threats (New York Magazine 08/11/16).

2015.10.13 At a forum in New Hampshire on 10/12/15, Lauren Batchelder (age 18) tells Trump that she didn’t think he was “a friend to women.” The next morning, Trump tweets that she was arrogant and a plant for the Jeb Bush campaign. She is immediately targeted via phone, Facebook, and email with death and rape threats

2016.12.07 Trump tweets negative comments about Chuck Jones, who said that Trump had lied Carrier workers at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis. Chuck Jones is immediately targeted with death threats, including “What kind of car do you drive?” and “We’re coming for you.” (Washington Post, 12/07/16)


2017.02.06 Signal received: White nationalist ecstatic over Trump's proposed policy change on terrorism. (Source: Chauncey DeVega in Salon)

President Donald Trump no longer has any need for “dog-whistle racism” or subtlety. He now acts unapologetically and with boldness. Last week Trump’s administration indicated that the Countering Violent Extremism program would no longer track white supremacist organizations. This shift of federal resources is but one more sign that Trump’s administration does not view protecting the civil rights of African-Americans and other people of color as an important mission. Trump’s base of white supremacists and white nationalists, on the other hand, is rejoicing. A signal has been sent, and such individuals have heard it loud and clear.

2017.02.28 Profile in cowardice: Donald Trump will take no responsibility for the wave of hate crimes he has inspired (Source: Chauncey DeVega in Salon)

When queried about...broader increase in hate crimes and other violence since Trump’s election, White House press secretary Sean Spicer replied, “I mean, obviously, any loss of life is tragic. . . . To suggest that there’s any correlation I think is a bit absurd. So I’m not going to go any further than that.” Such a response is expected: The Trump administration has made clear that protection of the civil rights of nonwhites and other marginalized groups should not be a federal priority. The administration’s lack of apparent concern and outrage about racially and ethnically motivated violence against people of color and immigrants is also a function of the political values shared by its inner circle of policymakers and advisers.

2017.03.08 Trump’s election has created “safe spaces” for racists: Southern Poverty Law Center’s Heidi Beirich on the wave of hate crimes (Source: Chauncey DeVega interviews Heidi Beirich in Salon)

As demonstrated by his rhetoric and policy proposals, and the behavior of his supporters during the 2016 campaign and his presidency, it is clear that Trump relied on white racism and nativism to win the White House. What is less clear, however, is whether the startling increase in hate crimes has been directly inspired by Trump’s victory or whether such crimes simply reflect the social and political forces that put him in the White House. What can nonwhites, Jews, Muslims and other marginalized groups expect during the upcoming months and years of Trump’s presidency — assuming that he is not forced from office?