A rash of news stories involving hate crimes against minorities have been circulating the internet since the presidential election of Donald J. Trump, citing the rise of white supremacist attacks against people of color, Muslims and the LGBT community.
The only catch? A large, growing bulk of the incidents were either fabricated by the victims or never took place in the first place.
While partisan-leaning organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center have given reports concerning a slew of hate crimes since the election, a rising number of incidents come to the surface, revealing outright fabrication, hoaxes and jokes made in poor taste and timing.
Several of the hoaxes revolve around Muslims in America, namely tales of white men removing a woman’s hijab by force and often desecrating it.
One incident took to the headlines after a University of Michigan student told police that a man had threatened to set her hijab (a religious veil worn by many women of the Muslim faith) on fire if she did not remove it. In the wake of the incident, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called for the incident to be investigated as a hate crime, claiming the “alleged attack is just the latest anti-Muslim incident reported since the election of Donald Trump as president.” Federal agents were involved in the investigation.
However, the Ann Arbor Police Department released a statement on Wednesday following extensive investigation into the incident, saying the incident never actually took place.
“Investigators conducted witness interviews and reviewed multiple surveillance videos of the area in question,” AAPD said in the statement. “During the course of the investigation, numerous inconsistencies in the statements provided by the alleged victim were identified. Following a thorough investigation, detectives have determined the incident in question did not occur.”
Another incident involving a hijab came out of Long Island, New York, where a Muslim teenager named Yasmin Seweid claimed she was attacked by 3 white men on a train on the night of December 1, saying they tried to remove her hijab.
Initially claiming the men called her a terrorist and called her hijab a “rag” 18-year-old Seweid was later found by police to have lied about the incident, having made the story up due to to a family fight surrounding curfew violations and having sex with a man, something her parents forbid.
As punishment, her parents reportedly shaved her head prior to her arraignment, where she was charged by the Hate Crimes Task Force on charges including filing a false police report and obstructing government administration.
Other incidents have involved acts of vandalism- a Latino student is reported to have written a hateful note on a white board at North Carolina’s Elon University that read “Bye Bye Latinos Hasta La Vista”, an act that was later reported to have been satirical.
One case reportedly took a fiery turn for the worst when a black man in Mississippi was arrested and charged with first-degree arson for burning an African-American church, spray-painting the words “Vote Trump” on the wall. The church’s bishop said that the man was a member of the congregation.
In Minnesota, UMN student Kathy Mirah Tu claims white men attacked her, telling her to “go back to Asia.” UMNPD and the Minneapolis Police Department said they were not informed of the incident, with Tu’s Facebook post concerning the event vanishing into thin air.
While some cases of Trump supporters committing acts of incivility are true, it appears that -like many news stories that make their rounds on the internet- such accounts should be taken with a grain of salt and a little research.
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