Column: Fear in the Trump era hits close to home and everywhere else

A Jewish center on Mercer Island was evacuated after a report of a bomb threat late Monday afternoon. Nothing “suspicious” was found and no injuries were reported, according to a Seattle Times report. About 250 people were evacuated.

This isn’t isolated.

Jewish schools and centers in 11 states faced bomb threats just on Monday, according to an NPR report. In 2017 there have been about 100 threats against Jewish community centers in the U.S. and Canada, according to a CNN report.

Two Jewish cemeteries – one in Philadelphia and one in St. Louis — were vandalized within a week of each other, according to another NPR report.

In a bar in Kansas, a man who told dispatchers he killed “Iranians” was arrested after he shot three men. One of them died, according to multiple outlets. A CBS report outlines the possible racism behind this action:

“Some said they heard (the suspected shooter, Adam Purinton) yell at the two Indian men to ‘get out of my country’ before he allegedly shot Srinivas Kuchibhotla and wounded two others. A bartender at Austin’s Bar and Grill in Olathe said Purinton used racial slurs before firing.

According to a bartender in Missouri who was approached by Purinton several hours after the shooting, he said he thought he had killed ‘Iranians.’

Kuchibhotla’s mother wailed as the body was taken for cremation. ‘I had asked him to return to India if he was feeling insecure there. But he used to say he was safe and secure,’ she said,” according to the CBS report.

President Donald Trump hasn’t commented on the Kansas shooting. And he appears reluctant – irate even – when asked to condemn racism.

In mid-February, a reporter asked Trump about bomb threats made against Jewish centers and anti-Semitism, and Trump responded by telling the reporter to “sit down” and saying the reporter “lied.” He also called the question “insulting.”

On Tuesday, he insinuated the bomb threats on Jewish centers and the vandalism of Jewish cemeteries were false flags, according to reporting from the Washington Post. Trump is expected to address the threats and vandalism Tuesday night.

Trump’s been criticized for his apparent reluctance to condemn what appear to be bigoted acts.

Jesse Berney, a Rolling Stone writer, argued in a series of Tweets that Trump needed to be more direct in his condemnation, in part, because his own rhetoric could have further inflamed bigotry.

Trump’s rhetoric and actions could be causing fear in other ways.

On Thursday Oregon news organizations reported that a Multnomah County judge is said to have allowed a man, with an undocumented immigration status, to escape through her chambers to escape Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Jan. 27. The judicial referee accused of this is under internal investigation, but the immigrant was later arrested, according to a report from Willamette Week.

According to the WW report, the alleged assisted escape “demonstrates how everyday court proceedings have mutated absurdly, and how tensions have grown within the criminal justice system, as ICE steps up deportations under President Donald Trump.”

Erin Fenner: erin@washingtonstatewire.com, @erinfenner

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