A synagogue in Poway, in the western US State of California, was attacked by a gunman on the morning of April 27. The attack killed one woman and injured three others. The police apprehended the attacker, 19-year-old John T. Earnest, a medical student who lives a few miles away from the synagogue. The attack on the Chabad of Poway Synagogue comes six months after the deadly violence in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in October 2018. It is also the latest in a slew of racist attacks on members and houses of worship of minorities in the US.
The police are yet to establish a motive for the attack but there have been speculations that it was inspired by white supremacist and racist intentions. San Diego Sheriff William Gore said that the authorities were investigating Earnest’s social media accounts. A “manifesto” posted on the online anonymous messaging board 8chan, barely minutes before the attack, is said to be written by him. The said manifesto is a letter that details the author’s anti-semitic intentions, and was posted on the same messaging board where the live video of the Christchurch shooter was posted.
Hate crimes have risen exponentially in the US after Donald Trump took office in January 2017. According to an annual report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, released in November 2018, hate crimes increased by a staggering 17% in the US. In the last report released by the Anti-Defamation League, a pro-Israel Jewish rights organisation, anti-semitic attacks have increased between 2016 and 2017 at an alarming rate of 57%, the highest in over three decades.
Donald Trump has publicly condemned the attack on the synagogue, but was silent over several previous attacks on historically African-American places of worship. A direct correlation can be found between the sudden increase in violent hate crimes across the US and the rise of Donald Trump, since his 2016 presidential campaign.