[CONTENT NOTE: harassment, abuse, assault.]
I’m sure you’ve seen some of the various online accounts (like this one) of violence, harassment, assault and abuse, after the worst elements of our society were emboldened by the election of perhaps the most despicable human being I have known of in my lifetime. Not all of these stories make it to a hashtag much less a news story, and I have a sickening feeling there are orders of magnitude more of them that don’t than do. Here is one from a dear friend of mine, posted here with permission (names and other identifying details have been altered):
Last night at dusk, our [teenage] Son was assaulted by three, white, college-aged men in the parking lot of [local mall]. Our washing machine broke and he went to the laundromat to wash some clothing as the new one hadn’t been delivered. He brought the laundry cart out to his car to unload the laundry into his car. After he did that, he took the rolling cart back into the laundromat. When he got to his car, he walked around to make sure he had fully closed his trunk. When he turned around the men were behind him, and they surrounded him.
One asked if he “was a Trump supporter”. Nolan said, “No, voted Hillary” The guys got in his face called him a Faggot, and took turns spitting on him. My Son crouched down expecting to be physically attacked. He saw the guys laugh and high-five each other. He stayed down until they were gone and got quickly in his car and drove home to tell my husband what happened.
When this happened, I was working at [volunteer gig] and didn’t have my phone handy. I found out that something happened when I saw all the messages from concerned family about the assault. I got home and took my Son to the [local] precinct to report what happened. They were very kind, took the description and are notifying the officers that patrol that area. The men were all about the same height, seemed to be in their early 20’s, were all white with short hair. One was wearing a dark Trump 2016 shirt, another was wearing a black simple hanes-style T, and the third was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt with the hood up. My Son gave the best description he could, under the circumstances, but he didn’t see where they came from or where they went. He was terrified and got out of there are quickly as possible.
I’m grateful that these idiots didn’t realize that Nolan was trans… the outcome could have been far worse. It’s appalling when you realize your kid is safer as a white man than as anything else in this political climate. If you read this and think anything about this was somehow ok, I don’t need to tell you how unwelcome you are in our lives. In all reality you’re long gone already. I care more about my family and friends than i’ll ever give two shits about your support of a dangerous idiot.
Please be careful out there, and if you know of anyone or saw anyone tonight meeting this description, please contact the police so that they don’t do this to anyone else.
This incident took place in a major city on the Eastern seaboard, in a state that went for Clinton.
As my friend notes, her son Nolan is white. He also has amazing parents and a solid support network surrounding him. It would be the understatement of the century to say that not everybody does. There are many, many circumstances I can think of just off the top of my head where a victim of Trumpism would not come forward to anyone, believing (correctly) that they will not find justice, or even the most basic human empathy, decency and respect. I implore all of us to be extra vigilant on each other’s behalf, intercede wherever possible and offer our support in whatever ways we can.
Here is a great graphic making the rounds in my circles. It deals specifically with bystander intervention on behalf of a Muslim woman being harassed, but as the creator (a French Middle Eastern woman) notes, “it also works for other ‘types’ of harassment of a lone person in a public space.”
Obviously it is not always safe or sensible to physically intervene. But there are often other ways to help, including photographing and reporting these incidents yourself to police and/or social media, especially if you have a local following. The only way we will ever push these emboldened bigots back to the far fringes of society—if we ever do—is to ensure that our spaces are not accommodating for them.