Nationally, racial tensions have been on the rise since the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency. An article on the Sacramento Bee website posted in July revealed that in this year so far hate crimes in California have increased by 11.2 percent after 2016’s 21.3 percent increase. 60 percent of hate crimes last year were race-related with Blacks and Latinos as the most targeted groups. In a new trend, it appears that public officials aren’t exempt to these attacks.
Officials like Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León are used getting hate mail like the one he received recently demanding he “hurry up and die”. He says it “comes with territory”. But de León did notice that since last November the hate mail has been getting more frequent and more threatening.
“In my mind, there’s no doubt that Donald Trump has opened up this Pandora’s box,” de León was quoted as saying in a Sacramento Bee article.
“The more high-profile you are, the more of these attacks you get,” said former Assembly speaker Fabian Núñez in the same article.
The target of these attacks are often high-profile officials like de León, who defied Trump’s immigration policies by passing the Senate Bill 54, or the “sanctuary city” bill, in April. That law banned all of California’s law enforcement from assisting in federal immigration enforcement.
“I think it’s sort of redundant to the point of being funny,” says Keven Boult, a Senior at Sacramento Charter High School. “ Like, how many times do we need to embarrass ourselves in order to state our opinion? (Trump supporters) think having (Trump) in office validates their opinions and actions.”
While blaming President Trump personally for the increase in racial tensions may be too far, there’s plenty of examples of American’s expressing themselves in a bolder manner since his swearing in. President Trump himself is on the record denouncing hate crimes and speech, but for those who would use fear and intimidation as tools to frighten the people they disagree with, the current administration inspires those who kept their opinions hidden before to act out in less than desirable ways.