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Charlottesville Racial attack : Disturbing harvest of Trumpism

Charlottesville Racial hate attack : Disturbing harvest of Trumpism

Right from the time election campaign began in America for the post of President till now, it seems that the US has turned into a “hate land” where racial divisions are being overplayed for political gains and solidarity.  President of the US Donald Trump is taken as their president by the white extremist groups and president has sent this message across from time to time by speaking against Afro-Asian blacks and emigrant Latinos and Hispanics.

Hate symbols are showing up around the country: nooses in the nation’s capital, racist graffiti on the front gate of LeBron James’ Los Angeles home, a banner with an anti-Semitic slur over a Holocaust memorial in Lakewood, N.J. On Saturday, the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in Charlottesville, Va., less than two months after white supremacist Richard Spencer — who coined the term “alt-right” — led a similar protest in the city against the removal of a Confederate monument. Several white nationalist groups gathered again at Charlottesville on August 12, and the protests took the ugliest ever racist clash in the modern American history.

 Protests turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017, as white supremacists clashed with counter-demonstrators, and a car ploughed into the crowd of anti-racist and anti-fascist protesters. This took place in Charlottesville, a university town of 46,000 people, in the state of Virginia in the United States. Charlottesville has become a focal point of the resurgent white supremacist movement after officials there voted to take down a statue of the Confederate General Robert E Lee.

 It all precipitated as a “Unite the Right” rally was planned for August 12 to protest against the removal of a statue of Confederate icon General Robert E Lee. Described as one of the largest white supremacist events in recent US history, it was organised by Jason Kessler, a former journalist and a member of the Proud Boys, an ultra-nationalist group. The day before, on August 11, marchers descended on the University of Virginia carrying torches and yelling slogans “white lives matter” and “blood and soil”. Protesters gathered again next day, and clashed with counter-demonstrators. At about mid-day a local state of emergency was declared by the City of Charlottesville and the County of Albemarle. Despite this in the afternoon a speeding car rammed into anti-racist protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring at least 19 others. The speeding car fled the scene but was soon located and stopped by police. James Alex Fields Jr of Ohio has been charged with second-degree murder and other counts following the incident. A police helicopter also crashed while en route to the rally on 12th August, killing two state troopers.

Loss of life at Charlottesville on August 12

The driver of the car, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr was arrested shortly after the incident and was charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count of hit-and-run.  In connection with the events at Charlottesville, police made three additional arrests. Troy Dunigan, 21, was charged with disorderly conduct. Jacob L Smith, 21, was charged with misdemeanour assault and battery. James M O’Brien, 41, was charged with carrying a concealed gun. Thirty-two-year-old Heather Heyer died in hospital after being hit in the car ramming. Lieutenant Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Bates, who were on board the crashed helicopter, died. Thirty-five people were injured at the rally, 19 confirmed by the hospital in Charlottesville. Police intervened after clashes broke out and dispersed the crowd, and Governor McAuliffe declared a state of emergency. The governor’s office also urged all members of the community to stay home on the evening of the fateful day.

The reason why hate movements are National Problem in the US

The reason behind the rise of racism is part of political rise of right in the USA with Donald Trump Coming to power. It started with far more intensity after the Trump Government took charge.  In June, a white man in a Chicago Starbucks was filmed calling a black man a slave, and a white woman in a New Jersey Sears was videotaped making bigoted comments against a family she believed was Indian (they were not). In May, two men on a Portland train were stabbed to death trying to stop a white supremacist’s anti-Muslim tirade against two teenagers.Groups that track these incidents — including the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the non-profit news organization ProPublica, which is creating a national database of hate crimes and bias — say hate incidents are a national problem whose scope we don’t fully grasp. Experts and analysts point out that tracking them is notoriously difficult because of several reasons reasons such as (a) not all law enforcement agencies send hate crime data to the FBI, (b) five states don’t have any hate crime protections, (c ) many states don’t include protections for LGBTQ people, and (iv) incidents of public harassment motivated by hate bias may not meet the legal definition of a “hate crime.

How Americans see hate crimes

On August 12, US President Donald Trump condemned the clashes “on many sides” in Charlottesville in a Twitter post: “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let’s come together as one!”

American political leaders reacted with outrage and condemnation after violence erupted at a white nationalist march on the University of Virginia’s campus in Charlottesville. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency on August 12 morning at the request of Virginia State Police after August 11 night skirmishes between hundreds of white nationalists and neo-Nazis who held a torchlit march at a controversial statute of Robert E. Lee on the university campus and dozens of counter-protesters. Members of Congress denounced the violence. Speaker Paul Ryan wrote on Twitter, “The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant,”. “Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry.” Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, said the “hate and bigotry” espoused by the march’s participants “does not reflect American values.”

Congressman Eliot Engel said white supremacists and nationalists who lined the streets of Charlottesville inciting violence the past few days are domestic terrorists. “Calling them anything other than that is not just an affront to our values; it’s dangerous. These men and women are filled with hate and have displayed a willingness to use violence as a means to push their racist, anti-Semitic beliefs.” Chip Berlet, a scholar of the far right pointed out, “They’re increasing not only in number but in terms of their ferocity.” Senator Ben Cardin said the President must be clear and condemn the hate-filled rhetoric, racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, homophobic and xenophobic actions from his supporters. “Neo-Nazis, KKK, white supremacists and all the haters need to stop. They will not tear our country apart. What is good and just in America is stronger and will prevail.”

Disturbing trend of hate crime in the melting pot of civilizations

America draws people from all the parts of the world to realise what is best today best in the world- education, business, research and above all better employment and livelihood opportunities, especially from Hispanics from the neighbouring countries. America is known for its great American dream and being a melting pot of all the cultures and civilizations under its coveted democratic and liberal traditions. Although patchwork of data do not give full picture of hate crimes, the SPLC and the ADL say available numbers show disturbing trends. In its most recent hate crimes report, the FBI tracked a total of 5,818 hate crimes in 2015, a rise of about 6.5% from the previous year, and showed that attacks against Muslims surged. The SPLC documented an uptick of hate and bias incidents after the presidential election, tracking 1,094 in the first month alone. The organization also says the number of hate groups in the U.S. increased for a second year in a row in 2016. In April, the ADL reported anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. rose 86% in the first quarter of 2017.

Ku Klux Klan

The Ku Klux Klan or the KKK   is the name of three distinct movements in the United States that have  advocated extremist reactionary positions such as white supremacy, white nationalism, anti-immigration and—especially in later iterations—Nordicism, anti-Catholicism and antisemitism. Historically, the KKK used terrorism—both physical assault and murder—against groups or individuals whom they opposed. All three movements have called for the “purification” of American society and all are considered right-wing extremist organizations. The first Klan flourished in the Southern United States in the late 1860s, then died out by the early 1870s. It sought to overthrow the Republican state governments in the South during the Reconstruction Era, especially by using violence against African American leaders. With numerous chapters across the South, it was suppressed around 1871, through federal law enforcement. Members made their own, often colorful, costumes: robes, masks and conical hats, designed to be terrifying and to hide their identities.

The second group was founded in 1915 and it flourished nationwide in the early and mid-1920s, particularly in urban areas of the Midwest and West. Rooted in local Protestant communities, it opposed Catholics and Jews, while also stressing its opposition to the Catholic Church at a time of high immigration from mostly Catholic nations of southern and eastern Europe. This second organization adopted a standard white costume and used code words which were similar to those used by the first Klan, while adding cross burnings and mass parades to intimidate others.

The third and current manifestation of the KKK emerged after WWII, in the form of localized and isolated groups that use the KKK name. They have focused on opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, often using violence and murder to suppress activists. It is classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. As of 2016, the Anti-Defamation League puts total Klan membership nationwide at around 3,000, while the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) puts it at 6,000 members total.

The second and third incarnations of the Ku Klux Klan made frequent references to America’s “Anglo-Saxon” blood, hearkening back to 19th-century nativism. Although members of the KKK swear to uphold Christian morality, virtually every Christian denomination has officially denounced the KKK.

FBI Civil Right Program to curb hate crimes

Hate crimes are the highest priority of the FBI’s Civil Rights program, not only because of the devastating impact they have on families and communities, but also because groups that preach hatred and intolerance can plant the seed of terrorism in the US. The Bureau investigates hundreds of these cases every year and works to detect and deter further incidents through law enforcement training, public outreach, and partnerships with a myriad of community groups. Traditionally, FBI investigations of hate crimes were limited to crimes in which the perpetrators acted based on a bias against the victim’s race, color, religion, or national origin.  In addition, investigations were restricted to those wherein the victim was engaged in a federally protected activity. With the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, the Bureau became authorized to investigate these crimes without this prohibition. This landmark legislation also expanded the role of the FBI to allow for the investigation of hate crimes committed against those based on biases of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or gender.

Way forward

The FBI said after Charlottesville incident that it has launched a civil rights probe into the incident. The Richmond FBI Field Office, the Civil Rights Division, and the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia have opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances of the deadly incident. It said that the FBI will collect all available facts and evidence. Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi called (August 14) for setting up of a national independent commission to investigate and combat growing hate crime in the US. “In the wake of the failure of President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to forcefully respond to the rise in hate crimes, we’ve witnessed across the country, I’m drafting legislation to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the national surge in hate crimes and how it can best be combated,” He added,  “The events in Charlottesville and the hate-motivated crimes we’ve witnessed across the country demand a response, and this commission will report to Congress on the scale of the problem, the causes for the increase in hate crimes, and how we may best combat it.”

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