From Streets To Holiday Table, Post-Election Tension Persists

By Cynthia Miller
The Santa Fe New Mexican

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) It may be a very interesting Thanksgiving for families this year as post election tension bubbles up at tables across America.

The Santa Fe New Mexican

Monica Pompeo, an Española native who now lives in Albuquerque, received plenty of grief while campaigning for Donald Trump.

The election hasn’t eased matters. Drivers have flashed her the middle finger over her “Hillary for prison” bumper sticker, she said, and last week she got a searing look from a shopper at a Whole Foods store while wearing her “Vets for Trump” button — a gift from a military veteran who appreciated her campaign efforts.

Now she’s got the holidays to think of.

“Thanksgiving could be kind of interesting,” Pompeo said. She had planned to bring Champagne, but she’s certain her extended family won’t feel like celebrating.

Hundreds of reports of hate-filled incidents have emerged throughout the nation following Republican Trump’s surprising presidential victory Nov. 8 over Democrat Hillary Clinton, from Trump supporters harassing Muslims to anti-Semitic graffiti being scrawled on walls. But the post-election tension also is unfolding in more subtle ways: severe looks, uncomfortable conversations among friends and family members, and ire over continued displays of support for a candidate.

Alexis Deneau of Santa Fe said her car was egged two days after the election, and she believes it was because her vehicle sported a Bernie Sanders magnet. A Corrales woman said she was harassed for wearing a safety pin — what she called a quiet way of saying “you’re safe with me” to people who might be feeling fearful.

Such is America in the wake of one of the nastiest presidential campaigns in memory and an election that has left lingering shock and a fracturing of civility in many corners of society. The tension has prompted schools and government agencies to send out messages to students, parents and employees with guidance on how to navigate the range of emotions and hostilities being felt by both Clinton and Trump supporters.

Last week, Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Veronica García held a news conference to ease concerns of immigrant children. She announced efforts to keep them safe in schools, such as a new hotline to report bullying, and ensured students that attending school puts them at no risk of deportation. The district doesn’t collect information on their immigration status, she said.

Archbishop John C. Wester of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe issued a statement Friday in support of immigrants and others who might feel targeted, and he encouraged all Catholics to practice “deliberate civility.”

Tricia Veech, a licensed therapist in Santa Fe, offered similar advice to people who are anxious about upcoming holiday gatherings with friends and family who hold opposing views: Keep conversations polite rather than political. “Be prepared to talk about things you have in common,” she said, such as shared memories, and have compassion.

Veech has been helping many clients cope with anxiety about the election’s outcome. She encourages them to stay connected with like-minded people, take care of themselves and avoid social media. That’s where some of the worst threats and insults are being hurled among loved ones, the kind of words that might not have been spoken in the past. “Social media has changed the norms,” Veech said.

But she believes much of the bitterness and distress will pass. “People cope,” she said. “We’ll cope with this as much as anything.”

In the days since Trump soared to a victory over Clinton, social media sites have filled with the signals of post-election fury: images of racist graffiti and personal accounts of harassment, intimidation and assaults targeting Latin American immigrants, Muslims, members of the LGBT community, black people and women. A Muslim student at The University of New Mexico reported that a man wearing a Trump shirt tried to remove her hijab. The Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center has collected more than 700 reports like this, including over 200 targeting immigrants. About half a dozen were from New Mexico.
Most of the incidents occurred within the first three days after the election, a sign that tensions might be beginning to ease.

But Trump’s opponents say his victory has given some of his supporters a license to unleash their hate, and this could have a lasting effect.

Darin Benally, a Farmington resident, told The New Mexican that young, white men have been terrorizing Hispanics and Native Americans in the city for at least the past year. He’s witnessed the violence. Many of the men meet downtown on weekend nights, waving Confederate flags, he said. He fears Trump’s presidency will encourage them. “I think it’s gonna give them more freedom.”

Trump supporters also have faced threats and physical attacks, and thousands of protesters have taken to the streets to denounce Trump’s presidency — including in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and on college campuses throughout New Mexico. Vandals defaced buildings and artwork on the UNM campus with anti-Trump graffiti.

Luke Armijo of Albuquerque says some “sore-losing Democrat” wrote “traitor” on the Donald Trump sign in his yard — Armijo believes it was because he is Hispanic. During the presidential campaign, Trump called undocumented immigrants from Mexico murderers and rapists, drawing the ire of Hispanics in New Mexico and throughout the nation. But Armijo isn’t Mexican, and he isn’t apologizing for his vote.

“I want change and therefore voted for it,” he said in a Facebook post.

Pompeo, the Trump supporter from Albuquerque, had hoped to continue holding her campaign signs at busy intersections to show her support for the president-elect, but now she’s not so sure. “I don’t want to be attacked,” she said.

Santa Fe appears to have avoided the most brutal types of encounters. City police spokesman Greg Gurulé said officers haven’t had any reports of threats or violence tied to the election. Nor have Santa Fe County deputies seen such activity, sheriff’s office spokesman Juan Ríos said.

Still, residents here say incidents have left them shaken.

“People who are angry are coming out of the woodwork,” said Ziggy Prothro of Santa Fe.

On Election Day, her husband had to flee from a man who came running at his car, yelling “Jail the bitch,” after seeing his pro-Clinton bumper stickers. Prothro peeled the stickers off the car.

Kristen Rushing, who lives in Eldorado, said she posted a notice on Facebook about a meeting planned Sunday at the Center for Progress and Justice to discuss ways to move forward after the election. Another resident demanded that she delete the announcement and threatened to report her to the FBI. Rushing said she felt bullied and a little unsafe.

Rushing also is uneasy about the holidays. Some Trump-supporting family members are coming for a weeklong visit.

“I think we’ll just have to make a deal that we don’t talk about politics at all,” she said.

The New Mexican’s Rebecca Moss contributed to this report.

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