Local Papers Report More Anti-Obama Incidents From Maine to California (Updated)

Dexter Hill, Editor and Publisher (Northbrook, Illinois), November 14, 2008 (updated November 16)

Earlier this week we started covering anti-Obama, often racist, incidents taking place around the country, generally overlooked in the national media—but covered by local papers. This seemed to strike a nerve with many readers so we will continue regular updates.

Local stories show that anti-Obama incidents (including physical and verbal abuse, KKK outfits worn, flags burned on front lawns) are occurring on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.

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From the Orange County (Ca.) Register, concerning an incident in Fullerton: “Two gang members pleaded not guilty Thursday to hate crime and attempted robbery charges in connection with the beating of a black man who was trying to buy cigarettes at a Fullerton liquor store.” The two men shouted racial and anti-Obama epithets in the attack.

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In Idaho, the Secret Service is investigating a “public hanging” sign erected by a man upset with the election outcome, the Bonner County Daily Bee (Sandpoint) reported Thursday.

A handmade sign posted on a tree reads “FREE PUBLIC HANGING” written in large letters beneath a noose fashioned from nylon rope. The sign then names former Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, current U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and civil rights activist Al Sharpton. The most prominent name on the sign is “OBAMA,” according to the Bee.

“That’s a political statement. They can call it whatever they want, a threat or whatever,” the creator of the sign, Ken Germana, told the Bee.

Germana denied any intentional racial tone to his sign but admitted he would not lose sleep if harm did come Obama’s way, according to the Bee.

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In Mississippi alone, the American Civil Liberties Union has received more than 10 calls since the staff first reported anti-Obama incidents last Friday, according to the Jackson (Miss.) Free Press.

One call was from a middle school vice principal, who claimed that teachers at the school had banned students from talking about the election in class, threatening any student who violated the rule with after-school detention, according to the Press. The school administrator had taken care of the situation but called the ACLU about the legality of the teachers’ censorship.

At the University of Texas in Austin, a racist post on Facebook has cost one student his place on the university football team, according to the Houston Chronicle.

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Burnette said the post was said by a friend during a text-message exchange on Election Night, and that his decision to post the comment on Facebook was poor judgment, according to the Chronicle. He has since released a statement admitting his mistake and claiming that it is not a true reflection of his character.

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AP reports today: “While the world watched a Grant Park celebration heralding the election of the first black U.S. president, some white Chicago police officers committed hate crimes against black residents cheering Barack Obama’s victory elsewhere in the city, attorneys alleged Thursday.” Lawsuits have been filed.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wednesday that tensions had erupted at two local universities. At St. Joseph’s University, a drawing of a stick figure in a noose was found in a classroom and residence hall on Oct. 29, and students suggested that the drawing was against Obama.

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At Appalachian State University, the administration has expressed disappointment at the numerous times black students have expressed being harassed in residence halls since the election. The Appalachian, a student newspaper serving the university, also reported conversations suggesting Obama may not be alive in 2009 and a t-shirt seen around campus that reads “Obama ’08, Biden ’09.”

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A verbal argument at the Pizza Pub in Oswego (New York) Sunday night suddenly escalated when Army fire support specialist Pvt. Kevin Flanagan hit college student Angel Moreno, the Associated Press reported.

“One [soldier] was saying bad things about Obama,” a Pizza Pub manager who witnessed the incident told the New York Post. He added that Moreno “got really upset” and responded to the soldier, ” ‘Obama! F-—- you!’ ” the Post reported Tuesday.


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Away from the spotlight, many local newspapers around the country have covered recent incidents of racially motivated reactions to last week’s election, from flags hung upside-down to the dangling of nooses and cross burnings. As we noted last week, a couple in northern New Jersey who had an Obama sign on their front lawn woke up to find the charred remains of a cross. Local residents today announced a “unity march” to protest the still-unsolved incident.

Now come these fresh reports. {snip}

In Midland, Mich., a man dressed in full Ku Klux Klan regalia walked around toting a handgun and waving an American flag. Initially denying it, the man eventually admitted to police that the display was a reaction to the Obama victory. {snip}

Parents in Rexburg, Idaho, contacted school officials this week after they learned that 2nd and 3rd graders on a school bus were chanting, “Assasssinate Obama!”

The Associated Press revealed on Wednesday, “Police on eastern Long Island are investigating reports that more than a dozen cars were spray painted with racist graffiti, reportedly including a message targeting President-elect Barack Obama. {snip}”

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From The Republican in Springfield, Mass.: “Community leaders including area clergy gathered Wednesday to show support and offer help to congregation members whose new church on Tinkham Road was destroyed last week by arson. . . The predominantly black congregation’s new church was under construction in the Sixteen Acres neighborhood when it was consumed in an early morning blaze on Nov. 5, a few hours after the election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first black president. The timing prompted the church pastor, Bishop Bryant Robinson Jr., to question whether the fire was set and a hate crime.”

Employees at Hampel’s Key and Lockshop in Traverse City, Michigan, flew an American flag upside down last Wednesday protesting of the new president-elect, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported. One worker used a racial slur during an interview with the Record-Eagle: “(The inverted flag is) an international signal for distress and we feel our country is in distress because the n——- got in,” said Hampel’s employee Rod Nyland, who later apologized for the comment, according to the Record-Eagle.

One North Carolina man who flew his flag upside-down claimed that voters were racist, electing Obama because of his skin color, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. “The flag is stretched upside-down between two poles in a field, with a black X running from end to end. The X is a reference to the Confederate flag, said flag-owner Tony Heath. It reflects his belief that the Confederate flag has been unfairly targeted for protest by people trying to be politically correct,” the Journal reported.

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Just today, two men were arrested there: 19-year-old Forrest Ashcraft and 22-yearold Stephen Barret of Friendsville. They’re charged with ethnic intimidation and trespassing.

Authorities in Temecula, Calif., found spray-painted graffiti on a city sidewalk containing a swastika and anti-Obama slogan.

From today’s Los Angeles Times: “Vandals spray-painted swastikas and racial slurs on a house and several cars in Torrance that displayed campaign signs or bumper stickers for President-elect Barack Obama, authorities said Tuesday. The incidents occurred Saturday night in the Hollywood Riviera section of the city, said Sgt. Bernard Anderson. Four separate incidents were reported the next day, he said. No arrests have been made.

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Students at Baylor University woke up on Election Day to a rope tied like a noose hanging from a tree outside of Morrison Hall, according to college newspaper The Lariat: “Later, verbal altercations occurred outside of Penland Residence Hall. A group of Obama supporters were walking around shouting ‘Obama’ and then passed a group of white men outside who made threatening and racist remarks, said Emmanuel Orupabo, Arlington senior,” according to the Lariat.

{snip} At a high school in Gray [Maine], a student was suspended after standing up in class, making a racist comment, and saying Obama should not be president, the News reported. Later that day, graffiti making a similar statement was found in a boys’ restroom.

In Allison Park, Pa., a student claimed that a teacher’s aide went on a rant attacking the Obama victory on two occasions, one time in front of another teacher. According to the eleventh-grader’s mother, the aide told the biracial student that Obama was going to be shot and killed, the U.S. flag would be changed to the KFC flag, and the national anthem would be changed to “Movin’ On Up,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The teacher’s aide has been suspended while the school investigates.

At the University of Alabama, The Tuscaloosa News reported, “a political candidate’s poster” on a faculty member’s office door was defaced Monday evening. A university spokeswoman interviewed by the News withheld which candidate was on the poster and what was written on it, but WVUA-TV—a Tuscaloosa station owned by the university—reported today that the poster featured a picture of President-elect Barack Obama. The TV station also reported that message said “He’ll be shot . . . ” followed by the “N” word. The university provost and vice president of student affairs wrote to students, faculty, and staff, calling the incident “totally unacceptable,” according to the News.

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