In Indiana, report highlights 16 incidents of harassment post-election, hundreds nationwide

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INDIANAPOLIS – A report by the Southern Poverty Law Center released Tuesday showed 867 reports of harassment, intimidation and violence in the first 10 days following the election.

Using data collected online and through media accounts highlighting ‘real-world events,’ the report stated that many of the harassers invoked President-elect Donald Trump’s name, “making it clear that the outbreak of hate stemmed in large part from his electoral success.”

In Indiana, the report cited 16 incidents, highlighting one where “a 7th grader demanded to know whether a classmate adopted from China was in fact Mexican, because, if so, ‘Trump is going to kill you.’”

The congregation at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Brown County knows hate knows no bounds.

Parishioners arrived on a recent Sunday morning to find a swastika spray-painted on the church, words what read ‘Heil Trump’ and an offensive slur targeting gays and lesbians.

“This was meant to cause hatred,” Rev. Kelsey Hutto said. “And we’re not falling into that trap.”

Groups nationwide in recent days have voiced concern and urged Americans to shy away from hateful rhetoric, including in Indiana.

“I was born here in Indiana and am proud to call Indiana my home,” Rima Shahid said, the executive director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana. “For people to call upon me to go home – this is my home. For people to taunt other children and try to exclude them – this is their home.”

The FBI tracks hate crimes nationwide. In a report released earlier this month, 63 hate crimes were reported in Indiana in 2015.

Those numbers, though, could be higher since a recent Associated Press analysis found more than half of Indiana police agencies have failed to file hate crime reports with the FBI. The AP analysis looked at FBI reports between 2009 and 2014.

“I would urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to re-visit the hate crime legislation,” House Minority Leader Scott Pealth (D-Michigan City) said at a forum hosted by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce last week.

Indiana is one of five states without a hate crime law. Supporters of a new law say they will pressure the Republican leadership to act.

“You know that’s controversial legislation,” House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) said. “There’s some concern about prosecuting people for what they’re thinking, not for what they’re doing. I know other states have had better experience with it, so I think it may be time to take a look at it again.”

A hate crime bill passed the state Senate last session but failed in the House.

On Wednesday parishioners will gather at St. David’s Episcopal Church to remove the graffiti. The ceremony will be called “Replacing darkness with light, overcoming hate with love.”

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