Since the election of Donald Trump, incidents of hate crimes have increased; in Tampa — like other places in the country — a mosque has been set on fire by an arsonist and a Jewish Community Center was a target of a bomb threat.
Ryan Lenz, senior reporter for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s intelligence project, blames the rhetoric spilling over from the presidential campaign.
“From November 9th to March 31st there were a total of 97 bias incidents that we tracked in Florida alone. Six were targeting Muslims, 22 were anti-Semitic in nature and 11 of them were instances of swastikas being spray-painted in an act of vandalism. … And I think those causes are quite clear at this point. The alternative-right or the Alt-Right has risen to a level of prominence ushered in on the wave of this last presidential campaign. And they seem pretty intent on making sure that the ideologies that were mainstreamed over the course of the campaign don’t leave the public eye anytime soon. I think it’s a troubling reality that we’re dealing with here, these continued bias incidents, and it’s going to take a lot more than someone saying, ‘I just disavow these groups,’ then, to make it go away.”
During just January and February, Lenz’ group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, noted more than 100 phoned-in bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers across the country. One suspect was arrested in March – a Jewish citizen of both Israel and the United States living in Israel. But it’s not clear if he is responsible for all of the threats.