WASHINGTON – Dozens of civil rights groups are banding together in a new national coalition to fight the spread of hate speech and violence stemming from the campaign of President-elect Donald Trump.
“The president-elect has been stubbornly silent. We, however, will not be silent,” Karen Tumlin, legal director at the National Immigration Law Center, a legal advocacy group in Washington and a member of the Coalition Against Hate, told Miami Herald on Thursday, December 8.
Another member of the coalition, the Southern Poverty Law Center, has recorded more than 900 hate crimes nationwide since Trump’s election.
The vast majority are aimed at racial and religious minorities, while “a small number of these incidents” targeted Trump supporters, said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s extremism-tracking program.
The new Coalition Against Hate was planned to serve as a central organizing power to protect the rights of vulnerable communities at a time when Trump’s choices for top posts have left many advocates worried that bigotry, xenophobia and conspiracy theories will be tolerated, if not embraced.
The organizers criticized Trump for failing to condemn supporters who espouse such ideologies and said the goal was to work together to prevent hate and bias from becoming “the new normal.”
Beirich said she was shocked when she went to work the Wednesday after the election to find her office inundated with reports from witnesses to or victims of hate incidents.
“It seems like every form of hatred that exists has expressed itself in the days since this election,” Beirich said.
“No corner of the country has been spared. This has happened everywhere.”
Activists warned that Trump is still willing to court polarizing voices as Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, former Breitbart news executive Steve Bannon, conservative pundit Laura Ingraham, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, among others.
Those names point to “a Trump administration filled with well-known Islamophobes, anti-Semites, white supremacists and bigots,” said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Los Angeles branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has joined the coalition.
Alex Nogales, president of the California.-based National Hispanic Media Coalition, said he expects the coalition would engage directly with the Trump camp at some point, but suggested he didn’t think it would do much good.
“He had his top lawyer call me to tell me that, unless we stop saying what we were saying, he was going to sue us,” Nogales said.