Across the country, Americans are standing up against hate

As hate crimes are surging, everyday people are responding.

A demonstrator holds a sign during a rally outside Trump Tower to protest against President-elect Donald Trump. CREDIT: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
A demonstrator holds a sign during a rally outside Trump Tower to protest against President-elect Donald Trump. CREDIT: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Since Donald Trump was elected to the presidency, there’s been a dramatic uptick in hate and harassment.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a group that tracks hate crimes, has recorded hundreds of instances of “hateful harassment and intimidation” since Election Day, leaving many people who live in this country fearful for the safety of themselves and their loved ones.

At the same time, however, Americans across the country are taking a stand against the vitriol being directed at their friends, neighbors, and classmates.

In addition to the massive protests against Trump’s presidency that have sprung up in major city streets — dominated by signs proclaiming “Love Trumps Hate” and “Not My Hate”— people are extending small acts of kindness and solidarity to their fellow Americans.

Here are a few recent examples.

Neighbors are stepping up to help when they see acts of vandalism.

As racist graffiti spreads in the aftermath of Trump’s election, vandals have defaced public buildings, houses of worship, cars, and even private homes. But many other people have gone out of their way to emphasize that they don’t condone these messages of hate scrawled in public places.


Over the weekend, for example, hundreds of people gathered in solidarity at a park in Brooklyn, New York that was defaced with swastikas and “Go Trump” graffiti on Friday. The park is named after Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, who was Jewish and who died of cancer several years ago.

By Saturday — when elected officials, other members of the Beastie Boys, and hundreds of New York residents assembled at the park to denounce the symbols of hate — the graffiti had been painted over, replaced with paper hearts and flowers decorating the playground equipment. Several imams and a rabbi led the crowd in singing “We Shall Overcome,” “America the Beautiful,” and the national anthem.

Similar scenes have played out across the country on smaller scales.

After a trans woman in Denver found her car defaced with swastikas and slurs, her neighbors started covering her car with Post-it notes apologizing for the vandalism and reminding her that she is loved. “We are your neighbors down the road and here to help…You are not alone,” one of the notes read. “Love & peace wins always!” another note reminded her. Speaking to a local news outlet in Denver, the woman said the small acts of kindness provided an “immediate boost” to her spirits.

And in response to the defacement of a Spanish-language church sign in Maryland — which was vandalized with “Trump Nation: Whites Only” — local clergy came together to paper over the vandalism with “Love Wins.”

Lawmakers are forming hate crime hotlines.

As hate crimes become more common, some lawmakers are stepping up resources to help track them. Since hate crimes are typically prosecuted by local district attorney’s offices, it’s important for residents to be able to easily connect with their local lawmakers to report a potential crime.

Demonstrators holds banners as they protest during a march in downtown Washington. CREDIT: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
Demonstrators holds banners as they protest during a march in downtown Washington. CREDIT: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

After the election, leaders in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, and California quickly announced the creation of new toll-free hotlines that residents can call to report hate crimes in their areas. Lawmakers in each state emphasized that they won’t tolerate hate or harassment directed against diverse groups of people.


“This state celebrates our differences because we know that it is the rich fabric of cultures and customs that makes this one of the greatest, most diverse places in the world,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said in a statement last week when the Empire State’s hotline was first announced.

College students are standing in solidarity with their classmates.

On college campuses, students are getting organized and planning demonstrations to push back against Trump. They’re also extending support to their classmates whose identities may put them at risk after the election.

At Baylor University in Texas, for instance, three hundred students showed up to walk Natasha Nkhama to class after she was threatened with a racial slur and shoved off the sidewalk the day after Trump won the election. They organized through the hashtag #IWalkWithNatasha and said they wanted to make sure she could walk across campus safely.

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And at the University of Michigan, about 200 students formed a circle around Muslim students while they held prayers — a very literal expression of solidarity for their classmates’ right to safe religious expression.


College students are also fighting for the safety of undocumented immigrants fearing detainment and deportation. Last week, students from more than 80 universities staged walkouts and sit-ins to demand their campuses become sanctuaries for undocumented students, pushing for explicit policies to protect those students from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.

City leaders are promising to defy Trump and protect immigrants.

Trump, who ran on a xenophobic campaign focused on vilifying immigrants, will have a lot of executive authority over immigration policy once he’s in the White House. He has promised to roll back policies granting deportation relief to some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children, as well as policies that limit federal immigration agents’ ability to detain undocumented immigrants in certain cities.

A student holds a sign as she joins a large crowd gathered to protest some of President-elect Donald Trump’s policies. CREDIT: AP Photo/Mel Evans
A student holds a sign as she joins a large crowd gathered to protest some of President-elect Donald Trump’s policies. CREDIT: AP Photo/Mel Evans

But some local leaders are already promising to stand up to Trump and do everything in their power to protect the immigrants who live in their cities.

The mayors of several prominent “sanctuary cities” — locations where local authorities refuse to cooperate with federal immigration agents to detain immigrants for potential deportation — have pledged to push back, even if Trump follows through on his promise to cut off funding to them. Leaders in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Providence, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. have all spoken out over the past week to say they have no plans to start detaining undocumented immigrants.

“These are our neighbors, and we will continue to support our neighbors,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in a particularly forceful statement. “We can’t allow ourselves to be divided and sorted out. That’s not America.”

School districts are working to keep students and teachers safe.

Trump’s election has created an unsafe environment in many schools, as children of color are being harassed in the name of our president-elect.

But many school administrators — particularly those in states with large populations of immigrants — are also stepping up to emphasize they won’t tolerate an atmosphere of harassment and hate.

Educators across the country are considering their role in combating racism in the classroom. In California, a principal sent a strongly worded letter to all parents noting that “racist and hate speech are not allowed to be spoken at school” and urging parents to discuss this issue with their children. A school district in New Mexico has set up a hotline to report hate crimes and is hosting trainings for teachers and staff to equip them with the skills to intervene when they see incidents of harassment. And a San Francisco teachers union compiled a Trump-specific lesson plan that calls out the president-elect for his “racist” and “sexist” campaign.

Schools are also working to protect their staff. Last week, for example, administrators at a Georgia school moved quickly to protect a Muslim teacher who received an anonymous note telling her to “tie” her head scarf around her neck and “hang yourself with it.” In a Facebook note, the teacher expressed gratitude that administrators “voiced anger” over the incident and have been “tirelessly working” to identify the person who threatened her.