Despite some trying to sweep racism under the rug, it is and has always been embedded into the fabric of the United States. However, in the era of Donald Trump, racists have been emboldened to act on their base instincts. Earlier this year, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at the California State University, San Bernardino found that “hate crimes reported to police in America’s 10 largest cities rose 12.5 percent in 2017. The increase was the fourth consecutive annual rise in a row and the highest total in over a decade.” Similarly, the FBI reported this month that it saw a 17 percent increase in hate crimes in 2017 compared to 2016.
While we don’t yet have statistics for this year, we’ve seen full displays of racism this year as well. And while it’s frustrating and hurtful that people are still judged by their ethnicity and/or race, we have also seen how people have come together to shut down racists. In honor of that, here’s a look at # times we shut down racists in 2018.
In May, a lawyner named Aaron Schlossberg freaked out when two women spoke Spanish at a Fresh Kitchen in midtown Manhattan. “Your staff are speaking Spanish to customers when they should be speaking English,” he said. “Every person I listened to, he spoke it. He spoke it. She’s speaking it. It’s America… So I will be following up, and my guess is, they’re not documented. So my next call is to ICE to have each one of them kicked out of my country. If they have the balls to come here and live off of my money. I pay for their welfare. I pay for their ability to be here. The least they can do, the least they can do is speak English.”
He was captured on camera, and then people began to plan protests outside of his home and office. They also rated his business on Yelp and Facebook, giving it one-star reviews.
Sean Ryan Felger
As three Latino contractors packed up for the day in late July, a 30-year-old white man pushing his 2-year-old daughter in a stroller who came across them went into a racist tirade. The men’s trailer got stuck on the sidewalk and blocked the path, which was enough to send Sean Ryan Felger into a rage. He parked the stroller a few feet away and began to berate the men. He cursed at them and reportedly told them to “go back to Mexico.” And in video footage of the encounter, Felger is seen shoving one of the men.
Police released images of Felger, who had attempted to go incognito by shaving his head and beard. But authorities still arrested him and charged him with disorderly conduct, harassment, and second-degree intimidation.
Rhonda Michelle Polon
Miguel Sanchez was hired as a contractor to do repairs in an apartment complex in Century City, but when his coworker Jesse arrived on the site August 4, he was subjected to a racist assault by a Rhonda Michelle Polon. She verbally assaulted them but also threw hot coffee in Sanchez’s face.
Polon, the owner of Spin Gal Fitness in West Hollywood, had to make her Instagram page private after receiving negative comments. The company’s Yelp page is filled with negative reviews.
Dr. Dov Bechhofer
Dr. Dov Bechhofer, a resident radiologist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, used the internet to make derogatory comments about people of color. In posts, he supported mass deportation and the killing undocumented immigrants who crossed the border without documentation. He also backed the white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville in August, posting regularly on white nationalist publishing house Counter-Currents’ website, and he made anti-Semitic comments, despite his own Jewish background. After his identity was revealed – he sometimes went by just his first name – Becchofer was suspended from his job. And protestors pushed for him to lose his license as well.
Mia Irizarry was just trying to celebrate her 24th birthday at the park on June 14 when a gringo began to harass her because of her shirt, so Mia began to film the confrontation.
“This is what I’m wearing guys,” she said revealing her outfit as a man yells at her in the background. As she asks him to get out of her personal space, he continues to berate her. When she tried to explain that Puerto Rico is a commonwealth, and therefore a part of the United States, he interrupted her: “We don’t own Puerto Rico. We protect Puerto Rico.” (There are thousands of people in Puerto Rico without power that would beg to differ.) “…My point is, why are you wearing that?” he said, pointing at her.
As she feared for her safety, a police officer stood in the background. She called for his help – even alerting him that she felt “highly uncomfortable” – but he did nothing. Eventually, more officers arrive and arrest the man, who was charged with assault and disorderly conduct. As Mia’s video went viral, Forest Preserves informed the public that the officer who failed to protect Mia was under investigation and on desk duty.