When the FBI began documenting hate crime statistics in the 1990s, it was quickly discovered that hate crimes increase in big numbers before and after every Presidential Election cycle.
A hate crime, by definition is a crime, typically one involving violence, that is motivated by prejudice on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other grounds. Knowing that hate crimes tend to increase during this time, some Ferris students decided to go back to their hometowns during the election week to avoid being the victim of any hate crime incident.
Amere Blake, a junior in business administration, was one of the students who chose to stay the week of the election in his hometown of Flint, MI. When comparing the two, Blake expressed that the differences between Flint and Big Rapids were big. Flint was more diverse than Big Rapids and Blake, being Black also feels that he is able to see more people who look like him while at home.
Originally Blake didn’t feel that it was necessary to go back home, and wanted to stay in Big Rapids, but after having a conversation with his parents. They pointed out how he would be more at risk by staying in Big Rapids and felt that it was better to be extra cautious, than to risk have anything happen. They also felt that it would be safer because they know the people in the community and know that they tend to share the same beliefs as them.
Blake, who voted for Joe Biden, felt that there would be a negative response no matter who won the election but now feels that he will be less safe due to Donald Trump losing the election, and Biden being announced as the President-Elect.
“I don’t think Trump is going to try and leave the office peacefully, I feel like he’s going to ask for a recount and his supporters will feel like it wasn’t a true loss,” Blake said. “They’re going to act more out of character and try to harass minorities.
Respiratory Therapy senior Garnisha Lewis also chose to go home during election week because she missed her family but because she’s also aware that hate crimes increase drastically after elections.
Lewis being from Detroit, related to the sentiments that Blake expressed when comparing his hometown and Big Rapids when it came to diversity. Although Lewis feels that she’s surrounded by a supportive community while in Big Rapids when it comes to her friends and organizations she’s involved in, she still felt that she’d be safer staying the week in Detroit.
“I don’t want to risk anything at all,” Lewis said. “People are going to be upset regardless of the results and I don’t want to risk getting hurt or attacked for something that I can’t control.”
Lewis fears now that because Biden was announced President-Elect, Trump supporters may get upset with the results and potentially harass others. Beforehand Lewis also feared that is if Trump were to win, his supporters would celebrate and still harass others.
Interestingly enough, based on the FBI’s reports, Lewis’ fears’ are not too far off as to what typically happens after elections. After every presidential election cycle, no matter who the candidate or who wins, hate crimes will always rise.
The FBI reports show that the last few Presidential Elections have shown more targeted examples of hate crimes towards specific groups of people. When Barack Obama won the election for both terms, hate crimes against Black people rose.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a prominent U.S. civil rights group said it has identified 900 incidents of harassment following Trump’s election to the presidency in 2016.
The number of recorded hate crime incidents was around 6,200 in 2016 – a 5% jump from 2015. According to the FBI report on the issue, this figure increased by 17% in 2017.
According to the same FBI report, 59.6% of incidents were motivated by bias against race, ethnicity, or ancestry. Crimes motivated by a victim’s religion constituted 20.6% of attacks, and crimes against a person’s sexual orientation made up 15.8%
Many news sources are predicting that following the election results, the trend will follow the same patterns it has previous years and are warning people to be cautious when they leave their homes.
To see the FBI’s annual report on hate crimes one can visit https://ucr.fbi.gov/hate-crime