An increase in hate crimes over the past year and particularly in the last month was rebuffed by local elected officials and hundreds of local citizens on Sunday’s “Stand Up for the Montgomery Way” rally in Silver Spring.
As Montgomery County residents are all too aware, there has been a worrisome wave of hate crimes and bias incidents this year leading up to the November 8 general election and after – 62 this year already, up 17 percent from 2015. Among those in just the last month:
- 10/22: Montgomery Co. police investigate assault as ‘hate-based incident’: assault based on perceived sexual orientation (Olney )
- 10/28: Swastika, other graffiti burned into Montgomery Co. football field (North Potomac)
- 11/14: Md. church vandalized with racist message: “Trump Nation. Whites Only” (Silver Spring)
- 11/14: $10K Reward Offered in Case of Swastika Graffiti at Westland Middle School (Bethesda)
- 11/15: Education Student discovers racial slur on wall of restroom in Md. elementary school (Silver Spring)
So it was welcome to see a veritable who’s who of local officials including County Executive Ike Leggett, Senator Chris Van Hollen, Congressman Jamie Raskin, and many others standing shoulder to shoulder to push back — both against local lowlifes seemingly emboldened by Donald Trump’s victory, and against fears among immigrants stirred by Trump himself and his incoming administration. And it was more heartening yet to see an estimated six hundred people from every corner of the county on hand to applaud and join them.
What’s more, many of the people in attendance won’t just be attending this rally: MCCRC activists collected names and email addresses from over 230 people who want to stay in touch about the kinds of local events, teach-ins, and lobby visits we’ve done in Montgomery County, Annapolis, and Washington DC.
A County Council resolution last week both condemned the recent hate crimes in the county and assured county residents that “The Montgomery County Police Department will play no role in enforcing federal immigration law,” adding that “County residents should never be afraid to seek help from our public safety officers.”
If you are victimized by a hate crime in Montgomery County, you can turn to county and state government for help:
- At the state level, Attorney General Brian Frosh has established a 1-866-481-8361 hotline for people to call if they’ve been victimized on the basis of their identity.
- Montgomery County has a well-organized hate response system, described in the brochure “Know Your Rights“:
- Hate Crimes Coordinator: 240-777-6082
- Montgomery County Office of Human Rights: 240-777-8450 (administers “Partnership Fund for Victims of Hate Violence”: up to $2000 for property damage from an act classified by the police as a hate/violence act, and $4000 for medical expenses from injury from such an act).
One of the most important points the brochure makes to victims of hate crimes is this one: “No matter what your immigration status, report the hate incident. The MCPD does not question the documentation status of victims and witnesses to crimes.”