By: Dexter Hill
Many conservative pundits and Republican officeholders on the national stage have reacted to the election of Barack Obama as a promising step forward in the history of race relations and democracy in the U.S. But gaining much less coverage from the national media are local reactions that are far less accepting and positive.
Away from the spotlight, many local newspapers around the country have covered recent incidents of racially motivated reactions to last week’s election, from flags hung upside-down to the dangling of nooses and cross burnings. As we noted last week, a couple in northern New Jersey who had an Obama sign on their front lawn woke up to find the charred remains of a cross. Local residents today announced a “unity march” to protest the still-unsolved incident.
Now come these fresh reports. Also see our new update:
In Midland, Mich., a man dressed in full Ku Klux Klan regalia walked around toting a handgun and waving an American flag. Initially denying it, the man eventually admitted to police that the display was a reaction to the Obama victory. ?[The man] had a concealed weapon permit and was walking up and down the sidewalk in front of a vehicle dealership while some motorists shouted obscenities at him and others shouted accolades,” police told The Saginaw News.
Parents in Rexburg, Idaho, contacted school officials this week after they learned that 2nd and 3rd graders on a school bus were chanting, “Assasssinate Obama!”
The Associated Press revealed on Wednesday, “Police on eastern Long Island are investigating reports that more than a dozen cars were spray painted with racist graffiti, reportedly including a message targeting President-elect Barack Obama. The graffiti included racist slurs and sexually graphic references. At least one resident in the quiet Mastic neighborhood told Newsday her son’s car was scribbled with a message threatening to kill Obama.”
From the Staten Island Advance this week: “The NYPD yesterday confirmed they are treating the Election night beating of a black Stapleton teen by a group of whites as a hate crime. Ali Kamara, 17, a black Muslim and immigrant from Liberia, said he was beaten with a baseball bat Tuesday night by four white men who shouted ‘Obama,’ before beginning the attack.”
From The Republican in Springfield, Mass.: “Community leaders including area clergy gathered Wednesday to show support and offer help to congregation members whose new church on Tinkham Road was destroyed last week by arson….The predominantly black congregation’s new church was under construction in the Sixteen Acres neighborhood when it was consumed in an early morning blaze on Nov. 5, a few hours after the election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first black president. The timing prompted the church pastor, Bishop Bryant Robinson Jr., to question whether the fire was set and a hate crime.”
Employees at Hampel’s Key and Lockshop in Traverse City, Michigan, flew an American flag upside down last Wednesday protesting of the new president-elect, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported. One worker used a racial slur during an interview with the Record-Eagle: “(The inverted flag is) an international signal for distress and we feel our country is in distress because the n—– got in,” said Hampel?s employee Rod Nyland, who later apologized for the comment, according to the Record-Eagle.
One North Carolina man who flew his flag upside-down claimed that voters were racist, electing Obama because of his skin color, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. ?The flag is stretched upside-down between two poles in a field, with a black X running from end to end. The X is a reference to the Confederate flag, said flag-owner Tony Heath. It reflects his belief that the Confederate flag has been unfairly targeted for protest by people trying to be politically correct,? the Journal reported.
In Pennsylvania, an interracial couple in Apolacon Township discovered the remains of a burned cross in their front yard. ?The couple discovered the remnants of the cross about 8:15 a.m. Wednesday (Nov. 5) when a man knocked at their door. Johnson looked out the front window and noticed charring on the utility pole, then discovered two charred 1-by-3-inch planks, each about 4 feet in length, beneath it,? according to the Star-Gazette. The woman, who is Jewish, lives with her husband, who is black. “The Little Meadows area was the site of KKK rallies several decades ago, and a local woman who worked on Obama’s campaign said Wednesday she heard tales of racist remarks directed at supporters,” the story concludes.
Just today, two men were arrested there: 19-year-old Forrest Ashcraft and 22-yearold Stephen Barret of Friendsville. They’re charged with ethnic intimidation and trespassing.
Authorities in Temecula, Calif., found spray-painted graffiti on a city sidewalk containing a swastika and anti-Obama slogan.
From today’s Los Angeles Times: “Vandals spray-painted swastikas and racial slurs on a house and several cars in Torrance that displayed campaign signs or bumper stickers for President-elect Barack Obama, authorities said Tuesday. The incidents occurred Saturday night in the Hollywood Riviera section of the city, said Sgt. Bernard Anderson. Four separate incidents were reported the next day, he said. No arrests have been made.
“At one house, the phrase ‘Go Back to Africa’ was spray-painted across the wall, in addition to a racial epithet on the garage door, Anderson said. Several parked vehicles on the streets were spray-painted with racial slurs, he said.”
Today, the NAACP called on North Carolina State University to expel four students who spray painted racist messages about Obama. Two of the messages said: “Let’s shoot that (N-word) in the head” and “Hang Obama by a noose.”
Students at Baylor University woke up on Election Day to a rope tied like a noose hanging from a tree outside of Morrison Hall, according to college newspaper The Lariat: ?Later, verbal altercations occurred outside of Penland Residence Hall. A group of Obama supporters were walking around shouting ‘Obama’ and then passed a group of white men outside who made threatening and racist remarks, said Emmanuel Orupabo, Arlington senior,? according to the Lariat.
Another post-election noose incident happened in Maine. ?More than 75 people rallied Sunday against an incident last week in which black figures were hanged by nooses from trees on Mount Desert Island the day after Barack Obama won the presidential election,? according to the Bangor Daily News. At a high school in Gray, a student was suspended after standing up in class, making a racist comment, and saying Obama should not be president, the News reported. Later that day, graffiti making a similar statement was found in a boys? restroom.
In Allison Park, Pa., a student claimed that a teacher’s aide went on a rant attacking the Obama victory on two occasions, one time in front of another teacher. According to the eleventh-grader’s mother, the aide told the biracial student that Obama was going to be shot and killed, the U.S. flag would be changed to the KFC flag, and the national anthem would be changed to “Movin’ On Up,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The teacher’s aide has been suspended while the school investigates.
At the University of Alabama, The Tuscaloosa News reported, “a political candidate’s poster” on a faculty member’s office door was defaced Monday evening. A university spokeswoman interviewed by the News withheld which candidate was on the poster and what was written on it, but WVUA-TV — a Tuscaloosa station owned by the university — reported today that the poster featured a picture of President-elect Barack Obama. The TV station also reported that message said “He’ll be shot…” followed by the “N” word. The university provost and vice president of student affairs wrote to students, faculty, and staff, calling the incident “totally unacceptable,” according to the News.
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