DENVER - Denver Police are investigating multiple reports of hate graffiti.
At least 21 cases of “criminal mischief” have been reported in the Mile High City so far this year, five of them since Election Day.
Last week, vandals targeted an SUV belonging to Amber Timmons, a transgender woman. They spray painted a swastika on the back, derogatory words on the side and the word Trump on the hood.
Earlier in November, vandals tossed red paint onto a “Black Lives Matter” banner that had been hung on the exterior wall of the First Unitarian Society of Denver. The paint oozed down onto the stonework below.
Over the weekend, vandals spray painted a swastika on the back doors of Isabella Bird Community School in the Stapleton neighborhood.
Some victims believe the property damage is linked directly to Donald Trump’s election.
The Imam at the Colorado Muslim Society told Denver7 that while mosques haven’t been vandalized, some have received threats and several members have been accosted.
“People will drive by, use the “F” word and say, ‘Go back to your country,’” said Iman Shafi N. Abdul Aziz.
He also said a woman was assaulted, while doing some shopping, shortly after the election.
“Somebody tried to pull her head scarf,” he said. “That was a physical assault. They told her, ‘you don’t belong here.’”
“I think the rhetoric during the campaign and election has given lease to an undercurrent that’s been there the whole time,” said Imam Shafi’s wife, Kathryn Lafayette.
Lafayette said the United States has a history that involves some shameful things.
She cited the treatment of Natives, slaves, the Irish and Catholics.
“I think people are frustrated about much larger issues,” she said, “but they don’t know how to address those issues.”
She said, for example, that some people may not know how to address the fact that their family is living in poverty.
She said, some may have have heard that it’s because Mexicans are taking jobs, so they direct their anger at that group.
“I think it’s a lot of misdirection,” she said. “I think it’s a lot of people who are scared and under-informed and I think that people like Donald Trump take advantage of that.”
Imam Shafi said there is a great deal of concern in the Muslim community about who Donald Trump is selecting for security posts in his Cabinet.
There are reports that the President-Elect wants to tab ret. Lt. General Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor, Sen. Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and Rep. Mike Pompeo as CIA Director.
Sessions is a hardliner on immigration. He was rejected when nominated for a federal judge position in 1986.
“He was considered by the Republican led Senate to be too racist,” Lafayette said. “So that’s frightening.”
Imam Shafi said, “It’s not only Musllims who say, ‘we fear that if these people are given power, they will misuse that power.’"
He said there have been countless demonstrations around the country because of that concern.
“This is a country that abides by the law,” he said. “We have freedom of worship and freedom of religion.”
The Imam says Mr. Trump won the election and has the right to select who he wants for his cabinet.
“If you believe in God,” he said, “you believe that God has a reason, purpose and wisdom regarding why the President-Elect is going to be the next President.”
Denver7 asked the executive director of the ACLU of Colorado if he believes the vandalism and verbal attacks against certain minorities will continue.
Nathan Woodliff-Stanley said, “It wouldn’t surprise me.”
He cautioned lawmakers against responding in ways that might criminalize speech.
“Hate speech should be called out,” Woodliff-Stanley said. “We have seen, over time, that when laws are passed to limit free speech, it can be turned back.”
“We deplore the hate,” he added, “and we work against discrimination, but we have to remember to protect our freedoms.”