Even before Donald Trump was elected president, hate crimes against Muslims in America had reached a high not seen since the days after September 11, 2001. A senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center told the Guardian on Thursday that he had seen a jump in hate crimes against women and people of color that was “clearly a result of Trump’s election.” New Yorkers disgusted with the elevation of a sexual predator and bigot to the nation’s highest office (and that is most of us) are wondering what we can do to help our neighbors who have good reason to feel afraid.
Kayla Santosuosso, who works at the Arab American Association of New York, said she received a Facebook message late last night from a friend with a problem. “They said they knew a Muslim woman who had been commuting from Harlem to downtown for school and she had been harassed on her commuting line by the same person. The police aren’t going to accompany her, so do you know anyone who can?”
Santosuosso put out a request on her Facebook feed: could anyone accompany this woman?
“We found somebody within five minutes,” Santosuosso told the Voice. That success inspired her to create this Google form, which allows New Yorkers to essentially sign up for a shift of accompanying those who feel especially vulnerable now. So far 1,900 people have signed up.
“I have been getting emails non-stop every couple of minutes from all over the place — Washington State, the Bay Area, Boston, Oregon, people reaching out and saying, can I do this in my city? Are you thinking of scaling up?”
Trump’s America. pic.twitter.com/OH61SweA91
— Michael J. Murphy (@MichaelMurphyNY) November 11, 2016
Santosuosso, who describes herself as “a white woman, non-Muslim, non-immigrant originally from Ohio,” said that she’s not trying to create “Tinder for protection,” and that the overwhelming demand has already made the list unwieldily. The project has changed into something bigger.
“One of the dangers in a moment like this is that, we are all terrified, but we need to sustain this energy. How do we broaden this? How might we think of this it terms of immigrant protection in the first 100 days of a Trump administration? How can we actually build up an infrastructure that can do that sort of de-escalation work and be able to mobilize people when the call comes out?”