A BACKLASH against president-elect Donald Trump was growing in the US yesterday after tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest at a vicious upsurge in racist, sexist and homophobic incidents across the country since his election win.

People have begun wearing safety pins as a symbol of solidarity with victims, in a similar way to which they were worn in the UK following the Brexit vote.

The first police reports of incidents came within hours of Trump’s victory speech the day after his victory at the polls. In Wellsville, New York, a huge swastika was painted across a wall with the message “make America white again”; in Brooksville, Florida, a black truck rode around the town emblazoned with a painted sign that read: “All Muslims are terrorists, deport them all.”

A Muslim student at San Jose University in California told police she was attacked from behind in a parking garage when a man ran up and pulled at her hijab, choking her.

At San Diego State University, another Muslim student said she was followed by two men who made comments about Trump and Muslims before robbing her.

A Trump campaign sign at the University of Vermont was painted with a swastika and online, Simone Zavala Nolet wrote: “One of my student’s aunts had to go pick up her daughter from school today because a boy grabbed her vagina. She’s 10. When asked why, he said that if a president can do it, I can too.”

That incident was posted on the website of Shaun King, a New York Daily News journalist who documents social injustice around the US. He normally receives up to 200 emails a day, but since Trump was elected on Wednesday, his mailbox has exploded.

King wrote that he had heard people say they should wait to see what a Trump administration actually does before mobilising opposition to him.

He said: “Frankly, that is the dumbest, most aloof, disconnected, privileged thing I’ve heard ... If you believe we need to wait and see what Donald Trump and his team stand for, it is probably because you feel pretty strongly that you and your loved ones will not be targets of his administration or their policies.

“With few exceptions, the only people I see encouraging Americans to give Donald Trump a chance are white heterosexuals. Everybody else is panicking.”

From New York, where he is thought to be discussing his future cabinet, Trump praised the “passion” of protesters after the latest demonstrations against his victory, including rioting in Portland, Oregon. “Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country,” he tweeted. “We will all come together and be proud!”

He had previously blamed the unrest on “professional protesters”.

However, Harry Reid, the Democrats’ outgoing leader in the Senate, said Trump’s victory had “emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry” and it “does not feel like America”.

His view was shared by Corey Saylor, who tracks instances of Islamophobia at the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He said the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino coupled with Trump’s rhetoric against Muslims during the election campaign had created a perfect storm of Islamophobia in America. Saylor predicted that attacks against Muslims would become even more frequent now that Trump will be president. “Unfortunately the election of Trump will embolden people who don’t like minorities – and not just Muslims but minorities across the board,” he said.

Educators and experts have linked the alarming rise in racist behaviour, graffiti and crime since polling day to Trump’s victory, and they say he could play a crucial role in curbing it.

Carlos Wiley, director of the Paul Robeson Cultural Centre at Penn State University, said he believes the attacks were a backlash from people who suppressed racial hatred for years during the Obama presidency.

Now they feel it is safe to openly display it. “People looked at the way protesters were manhandled at Trump rallies, and they think ‘oh, if someone disagrees with us, we can do those things as well’,” Wiley said.

Enid Logan, a teacher of sociology and African-American studies at the University of Minnesota, said Trump’s victory legitimised white supremacists’ point of view.

“There was nothing subtle with Trump – extreme vetting and ideological testing of Muslims, deporting all undocumented people, Mexicans are rapists and murders,” she said.

“And he won. White people supported him. So this kind of thinking isn’t as marginal as we thought.”

At Texas State University in San Marcos, threatening fliers were posted around the campus. One said: “Now that our man Trump is elected and Republicans own both the Senate and the House – time to organise tar and feather VIGILANTE SQUADS and go arrest and torture those deviant university leaders spouting off all this diversity garbage,”