Last Tuesday, November 4, 2008, the United States elected its first African-American president: Barack Obama. While many people around the world celebrated the historic moment, other responses took the form of ugly race-related incidents, sending a reminder that this election does not mark the end of the fight against intolerance and hate.
TORRANCE, CA: This past Sunday morning, a few Obama supporters in Torrance awoke to an ugly message: their houses, cars, campaign signs, and trees where they had displayed Obama signs and stickers were defaced by hate graffiti. The vandalism included spray-painted swastikas, “Go Back to Africa,” “N****R,” and “Hitler.” Police are investigating the acts of vandalism as hate crimes. One resident, who found four swastikas painted on her car and her “Yes We Did!” banner torn down, said that many of her McCain-supporting neighbors had expressed their concern and support for her, saying, “This shouldn’t happen ever, and it was a hate crime.”
MIDLAND, MI: The day after the election, GOP precinct delegate Randy Gray marched on the sidewalk in Midland, carrying an American flag – and wearing his Ku Klux Klan robe and hood. ”It’s not just about Barack Obama,” he stated. ”It goes deeper than that [...] I feel white people feel more oppressed [...] We’re basically told as white people we can’t have any organizations. We’re ruled by communists.” A woman driving by Gray called out to him: “You’re living in a world that doesn’t exist any more.”
STATEN ISLAND, NY: This Thursday, November 13, the Staten Island African-American Political Association will hold a town hall-style meeting to promote healing and unity in the community after receiving calls from residents who have been the victims of racial slurs and other insults after the election. NYPD detectives are investigating the beating of Alie Kamara, a black 17-year-old student in Staten Island. Kamara reported that four white men shouted, “Obama!” and attacked him with a baseball bat; he was left with a wound that required four staples in his head. Dora Berksteiner, the president of the African-American Political Association, said they have spoken with educators who have seen both black and white students using the election to begin arguments. The community meeting will occur at 75 Stuyvesant Place at 7:30 PM.
UPDATE: On Friday, the NYPD arrested two 18-year-old men for Kamara’s beating after a witness helped to identify them. Ralph Nicoletti and Bryan Garaventa will face charges of hate-crime assault and criminal possession of a weapon.
NY Daily News: “Gang angry at Barack Obama win beat me, says Staten Island teen”
The Staten Island Advance: “Cops treating ‘Obama’ attack as hate crime”
WCBSTV: “Staten Island teen battered in Obama bias attack”
Has your community experienced intolerance in the aftermath of this year’s election? How have you responded? Please share your stories and ideas in the comments below.