Over 150 major American civil rights groups called on President Donald Trump Friday to more forcefully respond to a wave of hate-related incidents sweeping the country.
Amnesty International, the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, Muslim Advocates and the National Bar Association were among the over 150 major organizations to sign an open letter both accusing Trump of fostering an atmosphere of hate and being to slow to condemn crimes motivated by hate.
The letter cites a slew of horrific, “hate-based acts of violence or intimidation” in 2017, including the February shooting of two Indian men in Kansas, one of whom died; the burning of four mosques in less than two months; over 100 bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers, synagogues, and Anti-Defamation League offices; the shooting of a Sikh man in Washington; racist graffiti in Connecticut and Oregon; assaults of Latinos in California and New York; and the murders of seven transgender women of color.
“While we welcome President Trump’s remarks to the joint session of Congress, where he noted ‘we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms,’ it was the first public acknowledgement he had made on specific recent events,” the letter states.
“It is clear that the President has been slow to respond to hate incidents, when he has responded at all. We strongly believe the President has a moral obligation to use his bully pulpit to speak out against acts of hatred when they occur.”
The letter goes on to say that Trump and his surrogates have “too frequently used rhetoric and proposed and enacted policies that have fostered a hostile environment” toward minorities.
“The President cannot condemn hate in one sentence and then in the same speech, promote falsehoods that can lead to bias and hate violence,” it says.
Trump has portrayed black Americans as criminals and Mexicans as rapists. He has routinely disparaged Muslims, evaded questions about anti-Semitism, mocked the disabled, bragged about the sexual assault of women, and promised to remove certain protections for LGBTQ people.
The Southern Poverty Law Center tracked over 1,000 bias incidents in the month after the Nov. 8 election. In some 37 percent of those incidents, the perpetrators directly referenced either Trump, his campaign slogans or his comments about sexual assault, according to the SPLC.
In 2015, hate crimes rose 7 percent, according to the FBI, driven by a 67 percent increase in hate crimes targeting Muslims. The agency has yet to release its numbers for 2016.
But while the FBI counted only 5,479 hate crimes in 2015, another government report estimates that number to be significantly higher. A survey by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics found that there are likely a staggering 260,000 hate crimes annually in America.
“We encourage the President, his staff and members of his Cabinet to condemn hate incidents when they happen,” Friday’s letter states.
It also urges to the president to “continue the tradition of a White House interagency task force on hate violence, and make available the full resources of the federal government to track and report hate crimes, to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators, and to aid affected communities.”
“Our inclusive democracy demands no less,” it said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.