Howard Witt/Chicago Tribune – Hate incidents soar in wake of Obama election
Howard Witt of the Chicago Tribune reporst on a rise in hate incidents across the U.S. since the election of Barack Obama. To read Witt’s entire story click here. Below are some of the highlights.
- Barely three weeks after Americans elected their first black president amid a wave of interracial good feeling, a spasm of noose hangings, racist graffiti, vandalism and death threats is convulsing dozens of towns across the country as white extremists lash out at the new political order.
- More than 200 hate-related incidents, including cross-burnings, assassination betting pools and effigies of President-elect Barack Obama, have been reported so far, according to law-enforcement authorities and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups. Racist Web sites are boasting that their servers are crashing under the weight of exponential increases in page views.
- “We’ve seen everything from cross burnings on lawns of interracial couples to effigies of Obama hanging from nooses to unpleasant exchanges in schoolyards,” said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Ala. “I think we’re in a worrying situation right now, a perfect storm of conditions coming together that could easily favor the continued growth of these groups.”
- Among the factors experts say are contributing to white supremacist anxieties: The rapidly worsening economic crisis; demographic trends indicating that whites will cease to compose a majority of Americans within a generation; and the impending arrival of a black family in the White House.
- “There is a tremendous backlash” to Obama’s election, said Richard Barrett, the leader of the Nationalist Movement, a white supremacist group based in Learned, Miss. “My focus is to try to keep it peaceful. But many people look at the flag of the Republic of New Africa that will be hoisted over the White House as an act of war.”
- On Nov. 10, local law-enforcement authorities arrested Raymond Foster, 44, the leader of a Bogalusa Klan chapter called the Sons of Dixie, and seven other Klan members in connection with the shooting death of a Tulsa, Okla., woman who had journeyed to the group’s remote campsite in nearby St. Tammany Parish to participate in an initiation ceremony.Authorities allege that Foster shot the woman when she tried to change her mind about joining the group. He has been charged with second-degree murder; the alleged accomplices, including Foster’s 20-year-old son, have been charged with obstruction of justice.