Donald Trump has said he is “saddened” by reports that harassment of minority groups has spiked since his election and called for an end to the abuse.
Anti-hate crime organisations and schools across the US have reported a rise in the persecution of minorities since the Republican won the White House.
“I hate to hear that. I am so saddened to hear that,” Mr Trump said when asked about the reports during an interview with CBS.
“If it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.”
The Republican billionaire – whose campaign centred on an anti-immigration message and and whose election has sparked protests across the US – also said demonstrators should not fear his presidency.
“Don't be afraid. We are going to bring our country back,” he added.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC), reports of hateful intimidation erupted in the wake of the property tycoon’s win, with the most complaints about anti-black, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim behaviour.
“Since the election, we've seen a big uptick in incidents of vandalism, threats, intimidation spurred by the rhetoric surrounding Mr Trump's election,” Richard Cohen, the organisation's president told USA Today.
“The white supremacists out there are celebrating his victory."
Among the incidents reported to the SPLC was one account of a 12-year-old black girl who was approached by a boy who told her: “Now that Trump is president, I'm going to shoot you and all the blacks I can find“.
SPLC found that the most common places for harassment to take place were schools and universities.
While some Twitter users congratulated Mr Trump for issuing a public call for the abuse to stop, a number of people called said the billionaire's comments were hypocritical:
And other users ridiculed the property tycoon, saying his remarks did not go far enough to resolving the problem. One user responded: "Something stronger might have been nice."Reuse content