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In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s stunning election victory, his critics have been warning of a new era of Trump-inspired hate crimes.
The FBI recently said reports of hate crimes against Muslims in 2015 hit their highest levels since 2001. The Council on American-Islamic Relations blamed the “toxic rhetoric coming out of the election campaign,” clearly referring to Trump and Republicans.
However, another disturbing trend also emerged in 2016: fake hate crimes.
Here’s a brief history of some of the Trump-inspired “hate crimes” in recent months that turned out to be fake:
‘White Men’ Attack Muslim Woman Yelling Trump’s Name
Police announced on Thursday that a Muslim woman, 18-year-old Yasmin Seweid, lied when she claimed three white men assaulted her on a New York City subway while yelling Trump’s name because she was wearing a traditional Islamic head scarf.
Seweid reportedly recanted her story and claimed she made it up because she was having family problems.
She was arrested and charged with filing a false report and obstructing governmental administration.
The “Trump Hat” Attack That Never Was
A female Muslim student at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette claimed she was minding her own business when two white men, one wearing a “Trump” hat, tore off her hijab, assaulted her and took her wallet.
During the course of a police investigation, the woman admitted to officers that she had fabricated the entire story, officials said in November.
The “Trump Country” Assault
An unidentified 20-year-old man filed a criminal complaint in November claiming that he was confronted and accosted by at least two white men when he exited an MBTA bus in Malden, MA.
The man claimed the men declared America is now “Trump country” during the incident.
He ultimately admitted that he faked the hate crime.
She Hopes They All “Get AIDS”
In November, a Bowling Green University student claimed she was “walking down the street” when a group of white men wearing Trump shirts started shouting profanities and throwing rocks at her for no reason.
When interviewed by police, the student ended up changing her story multiple times, including where it happened. Police successfully obtained a warrant for the student’s Facebook and Verizon history and were able to confirm she wasn’t where she said she was during the alleged incident.
Police said the student, Eleesha Long, appeared to be motivated by her disdain for Trump. Investigators found vile messages she wrote about Trump supporters, including, “I hope they all get AIDS."
Long was charged with filling a false report and obstructing official police business.
The Unexpected Culprit
Earlier in December, someone went on a “racist,” pro-Trump graffiti spree. Some of the messages scrawled around Philadelphia were “Trump rules” and “Black B***h.”
However, police ultimately apprehended an unexpected perp: a 58-year-old black man.
The suspect, William Tucker, of New Jersey, was reportedly caught on surveillance video carrying out some of the “racist” acts.
Tucker was arrested and charged with four counts of criminal mischief.
The Most Elaborate Fake Hate Crime Ever
A Florida man fabricated an elaborate “hate crime” earlier this month because he was upset about a custody dispute with the mother of his children.
Vincent Palmer, 27, admitted to detectives that he marked his ex-girlfriend’s mailbox with “KKK” and “Trump,” threw a brick through her car window, soaked the back seat in gasoline and set the vehicle on fire.
When police grew suspicious of him, Palmer allegedly staged his own abduction. He reportedly left a note that read: “You will never see your grandson again alive.” It was also marked with "KKK.”
Police found him at a Burger King a short time later. He finally confessed to making it all up and was arrested.
The Villanova Mystery
This one isn’t a proven fake incident, but it’s a story that garnered a lot of attention and then disappeared with little explanation.
In early December, Villanova University abruptly dropped its investigation into a black female student’s claim that she was knocked down by a group of white men screaming “Trump.” The student reportedly said she no longer wanted to pursue the case.
Villanova University declined to “speculate on what occurred.”
“From one Muslim to another: Stop faking hate crimes”
Let us be clear: Hate crimes are a serious matter and should be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. However, when people fabricate hate crimes, they only end up hurting real victims by planting the seeds of doubt in the public's mind.
Writer Siraj Hashmi recently penned a compelling op-ed in response to the most recent fake anti-Muslim hate crime (the first one on this list) titled, “From one Muslim to another: Stop faking hate crimes.” Here's what he had to say:
As someone who was born and raised Muslim, I get it. It’s hard to be a Muslim in the world, today. We’re misunderstood. Sometimes we’re assaulted verbally or even physically. And some are even killed for what they believe. And more often than not, the perpetrators come from our own faith, not from those who voted for the President-elect.
Groups like ISIS, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, and al-Shabaab have killed thousands of deeply devout, peaceful Muslims for the way they practice their faith.
Americans are good people. Not only do we take pride in the fact that we’re a nation of immigrants, but we also embrace diversity in every facet: race, religion, gender, sexual preference, and even political beliefs (although we struggle with the last one). The Constitution gives Americans like myself and Yasmin Seweid the protections to not only say what we feel but also practice our faith freely without persecution from the government.
So, if you’re going through something similar and feel you have to lie to your parents, please don’t make up a hate crime, especially when these incidents are so politically charged. Faking a hate crime questions the credibility of anyone and everyone who suffers from real hate crimes.
If you really care about injustice, stop faking hate crimes.