SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — There has been an uptick in hate crimes in California since the presidential election, according to data collected by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
And one local politician, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, is stepping in at the high school level to find out what is going on and how to stop the problem from getting worse.
At times, it was too emotional for words. Students shared their fears and concerns about living in the United States ever since the presidential election.
Newsom sat with a handful of students at Burton High School in San Francisco to listen and learn about what’s been happening to them since the election. He pointed to the racist graffiti that was found in a Danville high school last week.
In fact, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there has been 700 cases reported of hate crimes, racism, and bullying in the U.S. since Mr. Trump won the presidency. And a large part of that figure has taken place in educational settings. Plus, 80 cases have happened in California.
While the lieutenant governor talked about solutions, he also took at swipe at President-elect Donald Trump. During his campaign, Trump spoke about building a wall and creating a task force to round up and send back undocumented immigrants.
Newsom is calling upon all school districts to re-commit to a zero tolerance policy of hate at school.
In the event, some students told Newsom that due to anti-immigrant rhetoric, they now fear their families would be deported, or that their friends who were immigrants were being forced to change their life plans due to fears of deportation.
Several of them had tears in their eyes as they spoke.
“It made me feel sad because I didn’t realize how many people didn’t like or accept us,” one girl who described herself as an immigrant said of the election results, saying the realization had made her feel like she was “less than anybody else.”
“I decided I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing because they can’t stop me,” she added.
San Francisco has a very diverse school population. The interim superintendent says they are currently working on sending out letters in 7 different languages to 56,000 families to remind them that San Francisco is a sanctuary city.
Newsom also asked the University of California, California State University, and California Community Colleges boards last week to help protect student data and make sure campus law enforcement is not cooperating with federal immigration authorities.
Newsom said many students he has spoken to are afraid, and need assurance that leaders “have their back.” Even his 7-year-old daughter has expressed anxiety about her friends at school, about whether they will be able to return from a trip to Mexico.
“She picks it up on TV, she picks it up at school, so if she is feeling it, imagine what these 14 and 15 year olds are feeling,” Newsom said.
The district has long had a policy of not inquiring about a student’s immigration status and not sharing information with federal immigration authorities, School District Superintendent Myong Leigh said.
For the students, they said it felt great to talk about they have been experiencing.
“We protect our students first and foremost,” Leigh said.
“It’s not something that we’re going to back off on or negotiate around, so please know that we love you and we have your back,” Leigh told the students.