Wednesday, 03 April 2019

Hate Hoaxes: Rise of Fake “Hate Crimes”

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Since the election of Donald Trump, reports of fake hate crimes, meant to make both Trump and his supporters look bad, have increased. The spotlight that the media have given to these made-up hate crimes has helped to reinforce a belief that hate in America is on the rise under Trump.

Although the FBI does not keep a record of fake hate crimes, such falsified allegations are nothing new. Twenty-five years ago, researcher Laird Wilcox published a book entitled Crying Wolf: Hate Crime Hoaxes in America (1994), which documented many such fake hate crimes. In the book’s foreword, Wilcox wrote:

This book grew out of a research project I began in 1988 when the issue of racist and anti-Semitic hoaxes first came to my attention in a serious way. I had learned in talking with a former associate in the civil rights movement of the 1960s that a cross-burning I had always assumed was done by white racists was, in fact, done by civil rights workers. This aroused my curiosity, and more extensive probing convinced me that it may not be an uncommon occurrence.

Wilcox continued, “I quickly discovered that there were almost no sources of information on the subject of racist and anti-Semitic hoaxes.” As result, Wilcox began the “Hoaxer Project” in 1989, in order to “bring together information on the subject.” After collecting an array of newspaper clippings, in 1990 Wilcox published a small report entitled The Hoaxer Project Report. Delving deeper, he found more such cases, culminating in his 1994 book. Unfortunately, his book has not been updated and is currently out of print. 

However, with the Internet today, news reports of hoax hate crimes are much easier to track down. Fake hate crimes have increased since the election of Trump, with many laying blame on Trump supporters, helping the Left portray Trump and his supporters as racists, anti-Semites, white nationalists, homophobes, transphobes (fear of transgendered people), Islamophobes, and xenophobes.

The Left, news media, and Hollywood celebrities have fueled the lies by not vetting information or waiting for the facts to unfold. 

Anyone who watches the news, listens to socialist lawmakers such as Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), or who follows their favorite celebrities on Twitter is pushed to conclude that Trump, his “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) slogan, and his supporters are “racist.” 

For example, politicians, journalists, and celebrities often conflate Trump’s accurate warnings about illegal-alien rapists, drug dealers, human traffickers, convicted criminals, and murderous gangs such as MS-13 with all Hispanics and immigrants.

Despite record-low black and Hispanic unemployment under Trump, the high number of women in the workforce, and his numerous condemnations of racism, bigotry, and racist groups such as the KKK, as well as his popularity among disenfranchised black and Hispanic voters (i.e., the #Blexit and #Lexit movements, hashtags for the black and Latino exits from the Democratic Party, respectively), the Left continues to relentlessly smear the president as a racist bogeyman. They say he is “dog whistling” racist messages and sending tweets inciting hate and violence across the country. If “love wins,” as the Left loves to chime, then they will lose by their very own lack of it.

The recent case of homosexual, biracial Empire actor Jussie Smollett (see below), is merely the latest in a long series of rising false hate crimes that have been reported since the 2016 election to make both Trump and his supporters look bad. Below is a chronological list (from oldest to most recent) of some “hate crimes” that were later revealed to be hoaxes in the era of Trump.

November 1, 2016 — A week prior to the last presidential election, Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, a historic 111-year-old black church in Greenville, Mississippi, was burned from within and vandalized, with the words “Vote Trump” spray-painted on the outside. The arson was made to look as if it had been committed by a Trump supporter. By targeting a well-known historic black church in the community, it further gave the impression that the arson was racially motivated. 

Initial reports about the fire quickly spread throughout national media in the days leading up the election. At the time, Representative Bennie Thompson, a black Democrat representing Mississippi’s Second Congressional District, which includes most of the state’s capital and the heavily populated city of Jackson, as well as Greenville and Vicksburg, told reporters, “The political message of the vandalism is obviously an attempt to sway public opinion regarding the upcoming election.” On December 21, 2016, Mississippi law-enforcement authorities arrested Andrew McClinton, 48, of Leland, Mississippi, an African-American and parishioner of the church. Leland was charged with first-degree arson of a place of worship.

November 8, 2016 — On election night, after leaving a bar in Santa Monica, California, Chris Ball, a homosexual Canadian filmmaker, was alleged to have been the victim of a vicious homophobic attack. The account of the purported incident, along with photos of Ball with his face and shirt drenched in what looks like blood, were posted on Facebook by his friend. The friend’s post read, in part: “To celebrate Trump’s win last night, some Trump supporters decided to smash a beer bottle into my close friend’s head last night for being gay, send him to the ER.” According to the Calgary Metro newspaper, Ball claimed that the individuals “started launching homophobic slurs” at him and said things like, “We got a new president you f***ing f****ts.”

The Daily Caller labeled the incident a hoax, stating, “He did not provide the name of the bar or the location of the attack, and his story has not been substantiated.” On November 10, 2016, the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) released a statement saying that neither they nor the City of Santa Monica had “received any information indicating this crime occurred in the City of Santa Monica.” And despite a Facebook photo showing a battered and blood-covered Ball in what was claimed to be a hospital ER, the SMPD statement commented, “A check of local hospitals revealed there was no victim of any such incident admitted or treated as well.”

Photo credit: AP Images

This article appears in the April 8, 2019, issue of The New American. To download the issue and continue reading this story, or to subscribe, click here.

November 9, 2016 — Early in the morning, hours after Trump had been announced as the projected winner on election night, William Tucker, 58, a black man from Lawnside, New Jersey, went on a graffiti spree in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On a white SUV, Tucker spray painted “Trump Rules” and “Black B***h.” He also targeted other vehicles and homes with racial and anti-Semitic slurs. Authorities charged him with vandalism.

November 9, 2016 — Also reportedly on the day after the election, Ashley Boyer of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, posted on Facebook that she had “experienced one of the WORST THINGS in my entire life!!!,” elaborating that as she was pumping gasoline, “a vehicle pulled up beside me,” out of which jumped four males, “all of whom are Caucasian,” she noted. The men then “proceeded to talk about the election and how they’re glad they won’t have to deal with n****rs much longer.” One of the men, according to Boyer’s original post, approached her and said, “How scared are u, u black b***h??? I should just kill u right now…you’re a waste of air!” According to a screenshot of Boyer’s Facebook post, within four hours of posting the story, it had received 5.6 thousand likes and other emoji reactions, 85 comments, and over 8.6 thousand shares. 

The screenshot was published in an online article published by the PhillyVoice, a Philadelphia-based weekly newspaper, debunking the account. The day after her post, she deleted it and instead posted, “Update on the situation from yesterday...charges were filed, fugitives were caught…yes I kno names and no I will not release them…I will not retaliate!!!” Boyer further added that she would “be the bigger person” for her “kids sakes,” followed by some rushed remarks thanking everyone for the shares and kinds words, saying they “really mean a lot.” However, as the PhillyVoice reported, police in Smyrna, Delaware — where the incident was alleged to have occurred — said that no such police reports had been filed that matched the supposed victim’s encounter. In fact, spokespersons for the Delaware State Police, which oversees the area and surrounding areas, denied any such reports or charges. “There is no record of this beyond what we’ve seen on social media and while there are several ways to file reports with us, social media isn’t one of them for obvious reasons,” Corporal Brian Donner told the newspaper. “We haven’t heard from the victim, any witnesses or a store owner. We would love for any witnesses to call us, but have gotten no phone calls. There is no record of this occurring in Smyrna, if at all.”

November 9, 2016 — Again after election day, an 18-year-old female Muslim student at the University of Louisiana’s Lafayette campus filed a police report alleging that she was physically attacked and robbed of both her hijab and wallet by two white males, one of whom she claimed wore a “Trump” hat and yelled racial slurs at her. The media did not release her name, but shortly thereafter it was revealed that she had fabricated the entire incident. She was charged with filing a false police report.

November 10, 2016 — Eleesha Long, 24, a student at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, reported that she was attacked by three white males, wearing Trump shirts, who threw rocks at her and yelled racial slurs. However, according to Bowling Green police, Long also made up the story. Rather than first calling 911, Long posted on Facebook the made-up assault, where it got a lot of attention, including from her naturally upset father. After her father read the post and was unable to reach her, he called the police. The Bowling Green police eventually found her and brought her to the station, where she provided officers with a statement. However, it soon became apparent that something was wrong. 

According to police, Long changed her story multiple times throughout the course of the investigation. “Several times the complainant changed her story and what happened, where it happened, and when it happened,” Lieutenant Dan Mancuso of the Bowling Green Police Division told reporters. Mancuso said police obtained a warrant for her Facebook and Verizon history, which revealed she was not at the location of the supposed crime when she said it happened. “Her text messages allegedly reveal her real motivation may have been frustration with friends and family who were Trump supporters,” local ABC 13 reported. According to police, text messages that she sent to her boyfriend and mother were laced with anti-Trump comments such as, “This is why you should take an IQ test to vote,” “I haven’t met a decent Trump supporter yet,” and “I hope they [Trump supporters] all get AIDS.” According to Toledo WTOL/CBS 11, “The made-up assault also led to a student-organized town hall meeting called ‘Impact of the Election and Respect Within Our Community’ on Monday, Nov. 14.” Long was formally charged with falsifying a police report and obstructing official business.

November 10, 2016 — An unnamed black female student at Villanova University, in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania, alleged that she was knocked to the ground by a group of white men who shouted “Trump! Trump! Trump!” After the student refused to cooperate with law enforcement over the alleged hate crime and said she did not want to pursue the matter, local police closed the case. Villanova continued its own investigation, but quietly ended it without revealing any details about the purported hate crime.

November 11, 2016 — Taylor Volk, an openly bisexual female senior student at North Park University, in Chicago, claimed that she was harassed with a note taped to her door that indicated she should go “Back to hell.” The note had homophobic slurs and was signed “#Trump.” Volk further claimed she later received two anonymous e-mails containing similar messages. However, rather than initially reporting the incidents to police, she posted about them on her Facebook page, where she said, “This is a countrywide epidemic all of a sudden.” Indeed it is, but not for the reasons claimed. Volk told Chicago’s NBC 5 news, “I just want them to stop.” However, it turned out that the “them” she was referring to was none other than herself. On November 22, 2016, North Park University’s president announced that the notes were a hoax and that Volk was no longer enrolled at the university.

November 12, 2016 — St. David’s Episcopal Church, an openly pro-LGBTQ church in Bean Blossom, Indiana, was vandalized with a spray-painted image of a swastika, and the words “Heil Trump” and “f*g church.” Reverend Kelsey Hutto, the priest in charge of the church, expressed how she felt heartbroken by the incident and told reporters, “We stated one time that doing the right thing was not always the popular thing. We were targeted for a reason, and in our mind it was for a good reason.” It turns out the church was vandalized by George Nathaniel “Nathan” Stang, 26, an openly gay man and organist at the church. Rather than being charged with hate crime, or falsifying one, he was only charged with a misdemeanor. Stang later admitted to reporters that he committed the crime because he felt “fearful, scared, and alone” following the election of Trump.

November 15, 2016 — Halley Bass, 21, a white woman from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and student at the University of Michigan, told Ann Arbor police that while she was on her way to Starbucks after leaving class that day, she was attacked by a Trump supporter who scratched her face. She told police that the man attacked her because she was wearing a campaign button that read “UK Remain,” in opposition to Brexit (Britain’s exit from the European Union). She also told police that her attack was part of a recent surge of hate crimes following Trump’s election.

She later admitted to scratching herself, and as a result felt embarrassed by her appearance. At the encouragement of a friend, Bass testified, she decided to make up the hate crime as a cover and report it to police. On March 6, 2017, Bass pleaded guilty to falsely reporting a misdemeanor. She was fined $660 and sentenced to 93 days in jail. The judge later suspended her jail term as long as she followed the conditions of her probation, among which included taking prescribed medication and undergoing a mental health evaluation.

November 15, 2016 — A 20-year-old black man in Malden, Massachusetts, filed a police report claiming that shortly after getting off an MBTA bus near Broadway Square in Malden at 10 p.m., he was approached and harassed by two white men, who threatened to lynch him and proclaimed that this is “Trump country now.” After prioritizing the case and re-interviewing the alleged victim, Malden Police Chief Kevin Molis said in a statement, “It has been determined that the story was completely fabricated.” The fake victim confessed. Molis said that the man wanted to “raise awareness about things that are going on around the country.”

December 1, 2016 — A young Muslim woman named Yasmin Seweid, 18, of New Hyde Park, Long Island, reported to the NYPD that she had been the victim of an Islamaphobic attack by three white Trump supporters aboard a subway train late at night. She claimed they harassed her and also attempted to steal her hijab. Two weeks later, the incident was revealed to be a hoax: She admitted to making up the whole ordeal after getting intoxicated with friends and being afraid of her strict Muslim Egyptian father, worried he might find out she was out late and drinking. On December 15, Seweid was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court, but was sentenced to only three days of community service and counseling in order to avoid having the incident go on her criminal record.

December 10, 2016 — Vincent Palmer, 27, a black man from Daytona Beach, Florida, faked a Trump-related hate crime because of a child custody dispute and outstanding child support owed to his ex-girlfriend. The incident began early that morning in Ormond Beach, Florida, when Palmer’s ex-girlfriend found her car ablaze in her driveway. Police also found a sheet of paper taped on her mailbox that read: “I have wathed [sic] you for a long time you and your n****r kids don’t belong.” The word “Trump” was written on the backside of the sheet.

Police already had a warrant for Palmer’s arrest over unpaid child support charges, and in an attempt to throw investigators off, he also faked his own abduction. Palmer’s sister found her brother’s jacket lying in the street by her car, which had bloody fingerprints on it and a threatening note. The note read: “KKK. I hate black men who f**k with white women. You will never see your grandson again alive.” Feeling both frightened and confused, and unable to get a hold of Palmer, she called 911. Police officers later found Palmer, safe at a Burger King, where he confessed to staging everything. He was charged with second-degree arson. His elaborate ruse failed.

April 29, 2017 — Samantha Wells, a female black senior at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, alerted campus security that a typewritten racist note was left on the windshield of her car. She posted a photo of the note on Facebook, where it drew a lot of attention and outrage, especially from the college’s black student body. The note read, “I’m so glad that you are leaving soon. One less n****r that the school has to deal with. You have spoken up too much. You will change nothing. Shut up or I will shut you up.” The note was the ninth racist message reported since the school year began. Hours after her discovery, students held mass protests on campus, for which school administrators were forced to cancel classes. However, it turns out that Wells fabricated the note left on her windshield. In an e-mail to students, St. Olaf President David R. Anderson revealed that Wells confessed that she “fabricated” the anonymous typewritten note. “This was not a genuine threat,” Anderson told students. “We’re confident that there is no ongoing threat from this incident to individuals or the community as a whole.” Although Wells only admitted to fabricating the one note on her windshield, there has been no word as to who was responsible for the eight previous notes and a few others since.

August 10, 2017 — In Jackson, Michigan, the house of a well-known local transgender activist (a woman who identifies as a man) named Nikki Joly, 54, was destroyed by a fire that also killed her two dogs and three cats. At the time, the FBI investigated the arson as a “hate crime.” An investigation carried out by the Jackson Police Department and Michigan State Police quickly determined that the fire was caused by gasoline. The police became suspicious of Joly when they discovered that she had purchased $10 of gasoline from a local gas station on the morning of the fire.

Furthermore, based on the account she told police of where she was throughout the day of the fire, an anonymous arsonist would have only had a five-minute window to break in to her house, pour the gas in five rooms of the two-story house, start the fire, and then escape without being seen by anyone. In February 2019, Joly was arrested and charged with one felony count of first-degree arson and two counts of killing animals. According to the police report, church officials who knew her said she “had been frustrated the controversy over gay rights had died down with the passage of the nondiscrimination law” and that “Joly was disappointed the Jackson Pride Parade and Festival, held five days before the blaze, hadn’t received more attention or protests,” the Detroit News reported. Joly faked the hate crime because of a lack of publicity (good or bad) for local LGBTQ activities; she wanted to draw more attention to herself and the agenda.

September 25, 2017 — Five black cadet candidates discovered racist messages written on whiteboards outside their dorm rooms at the U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School in Colorado Springs, Colorado. One of the messages read, “Go home n****r,” among other racial slurs. The incident prompted an investigation by academy police and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. The scandal also made national headlines and even elicited a speech from USAF Lieutenant General Jay Silveria, who gave a passionate presentation that quickly went viral on social media, condemning the racism. CNN’s coverage went so far as to fault Trump. “The election of President Donald Trump lifted the rock under which much of the hatred had hidden, allowing it to squirm out into the light,” CNN’s Frida Ghitis said during a broadcast report. However, it turns out that the perpetrator was in fact one of the black cadet candidates targeted in one of the messages. “We can confirm that one of the cadet candidates who was allegedly targeted by racist remarks written outside of their dorm room was actually responsible for the act,” academy spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Allen Herritage said in a statement to the Colorado Springs Gazette. “The individual admitted responsibility and this was validated by the investigation.”

September 2, 2018 — Adwoa Lewis, 19, of Long Island, New York, told Nassau County Police that as she was driving home, around 11 p.m., she was confronted by four white teenagers who yelled “Trump 2016” and told her she “didn’t belong here.” Lewis told police that when she woke up the next morning her tires had been slashed and that a note was left behind, which read “go home.” After an extensive investigation, Lewis admitted to fabricating the entire story. She slashed her own tires and wrote the note. But again, CNN coverage went so far as to connect the supposed hate crime to Trump.

January 18, 2019 — Nicholas Sandmann, 16, a white male student from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, was accused by an elderly Native American named Nathan Phillips and by major media of taunting both blacks and Indians, and of trying to intimidate Phillips by standing in Phillips’ path as he walked. A brief video showed Sandmann smiling amongst a crowd of kids as Phillips banged a drum in his face. Since Sandmann was wearing a red MAGA hat after the March for Life rally in Washington, D.C., media presented him as just another racist, privileged, white Trump supporter.

Though the story should have been poked full of holes early on by media because Phillips changed his story — first saying that Sandmann blocked him from walking to the top of the Lincoln Memorial, and then saying that Phillips had placed himself between the Covington students and four black men that the students “were in the process of attacking” — it wasn’t vetted. In Phillips’ second narrative, he claimed that when he intervened to help the blacks, the students (many wearing MAGA hats) redirected their anger at him, surrounding and taunting him.

As a result, Sandmann quickly became the subject of a relentless smear campaign by the Washington Post and various Hollywood celebrities, portraying him as a racist. However, as more video came to light, it became clear that the black men referenced by Phillips were actually black supremacist Hebrew Israelites, who were not only taunting Sandmann and the other Covington Catholic High School students but also mocking the Indians, shouting vehemently racist comments about them. Furthermore, newer video showed that Phillips wasn’t surrounded by the students, as he originally alleged, but rather he walked up to them to provoke a response. On February 19, Sandmann’s attorney filed a defamation lawsuit against the Washington Post seeking $250 million in damages.

January 22 & 29, 2019 — On January 22, Jussie Smollett, 36, the openly gay, biracial actor on the show Empire, reported that he received a threatening letter depicting a crudely drawn stick figure hanging from a tree with a noose around its neck and a gun pointed at its head. The letter, which was written with what appeared to be cutout letters from magazines, read: “Smollett, Jussie you will die” and “MAGA.” White powder was found with the letter, which authorities later confirmed was crushed Tylenol. Exactly one week later, while walking outside at 2 a.m. in Chicago, Smollett claimed, two white men wearing ski masks and red hats approached him and asked “Aren’t you that f****t Empire n****r?” The men, Smollett claimed, beat him, put a noose around his neck, and poured “an unknown chemical substance” on him, which was later revealed to be bleach, and then ran off yelling, “This is MAGA country.” When police responded to Smollett’s call later that morning he was still wearing the noose around his neck, telling police that he didn’t take it off because he didn’t want to “tamper with evidence.” Presidential candidates Senators Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) both described the alleged hate crime as “an attempted modern-day lynching.” However, after an extensive investigation, the alleged perpetrators were discovered to be two Nigerian brothers who were acquaintances of Smollett. “Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago’s reputation through the mud in the process,” Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson said at a press conference. “This stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary, so he concocted a story about being attacked.” On February 20, Smollett was formally charged with a class 4 felony for filing a false police report. The next morning, he surrendered himself at the Chicago Police Department’s Central Booking station, where he was placed under arrest.

The above list is by no means exhaustive, and more examples could easily have been cited. Sadly, more than likely those will not be the last fake hate crimes reported in the Trump era.

Photo credit: AP Images

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