Dozens of labor, faith and civil rights groups are calling on President-elect Donald Trump to speak out against bullying and acts of hate and bigotry that they say have spiked since his election last week, particularly in schools.
The effort was led by the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest teachers union, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which collected more than 400 reports of intimidation and hate in the five days after Election Day. Swastikas have been scrawled on bathroom walls, children have been captured on video chanting “build the wall,” and Muslim women and girls have reported being threatened for wearing the hijab.
“Millions of your supporters would never participate in these actions, but your campaign rhetoric has created an environment that enables and encourages those who want to harm others,” the groups wrote Friday in a letter to Trump. “We ask you to use your position, your considerable platform and even your tweets to send a clear message that hate has no place in our public discourse, in our public policy or in our society.”
The letter was signed by more than 100 left-leaning groups and individuals, including the National Education Association and AFL-CIO and other labor groups; the Human Rights Campaign; National Council of La Raza; the National Immigration Law Center and the National Women’s Law Center; and several faith leaders, including the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, leader of North Carolina’s “Moral Mondays” civil rights protests.
Trump did briefly address the reports of increased bullying in an interview on “60 Minutes” on Sunday. Asked about them by CBS’s Lesley Stahl, Trump said he was “very surprised. … I hate to hear that.”
He said he thought that he had seen news of one or two incidents. “I think it’s a very small amount,” he said. When Stahl asked him what he wanted to say to those responsible, Trump said: “I would say don’t do it, that’s terrible, ’cause I’m gonna bring this country together.”
“I say, ‘Stop it.’ If it — if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.”
Friday’s letter to Trump acknowledged his statements on “60 Minutes” but said they weren’t enough: “The appointment of ‘alt-right’ hero Steve Bannon as your chief strategist — which has been cheered by the Ku Klux Klan, the American Renaissance and other white supremacist groups — sends the exact opposite message,” the groups wrote.
Spokespeople for Trump’s transition team did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.