By Victor Ochieng
When Nicki Panchol left for a hike, she decided to wear a bandanna to protect herself from the scorching California sun. She didn’t expect that the bandanna would make some people so mad that they would end up vandalizing her car, stealing her purse and demanding that she leave the U.S.
Why? Because the criminals thought she was Muslim.
In their note, they said, “Hijab wearing b***…This is our nation now get the f*** out.”
Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle, Panchol said, “When I saw it, I was in shock that someone would feel so much hate to do this. I realize that this is the climate after this election. But I didn’t realize someone would be so ignorant and in so much pain to cause so much harm.”
Panchol said the incident got her badly shaken that, by the time of the interview, she hadn’t returned to the Fremont, California-based Mission Peak Regional Preserve.
Investigations are already underway, with the incident classified as hate crime.
Police spokeswoman Geneva Bosques said the crime is “very disturbing.”
“We are obviously very upset and saddened that this happened in our community,” she said.
The incident took place on November 14. Panachol arrived at the Mission Peak Regional Preserve at around midday and parked her car.
According to Carolyn Jones, public information supervisor for the East Bay Regional Park District, Panachol first spent about an hour vlogging for a “peace project” before she set out for her hike.
When she got back to the parking lot at 4pm, she found that someone had broken into her car and stolen her purse. That’s also when she discovered the hate note.
But even after the incident, Jones has insisted that the Panachol experience was an isolated one that shouldn’t scare away anyone.
“Everyone is welcome, and this is a deplorable thing,” Jones said.
In general, there has been a torrent of hate crimes against minorities since Republican Donald Trump won the November 8 presidential election.
Days after Trump triumphed, a white male approached a student at the University of Michigan and threatened to set her ablaze if she didn’t remove her hijab. This is besides hate graffiti, physical threats, placards and online attacks directed at minorities.
The Southern Poverty Law Center recently stated that hundreds of hate crimes have been reported in the U.S. since the election of Trump.
While all these were happening, Trump wasn’t aware. He said during a Sunday, November 13, interview that it hadn’t come to his attention that some of his supporters were targeting minorities based on their religion, skin color and political beliefs.
“I am so saddened to hear that,” Trump said. “And I say, stop it. If it, if it helps, I will say this and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.