The Trump Effect

How does the national political discourse affect us locally?

In regard to hate crimes in Montgomery County, the evidence is disturbingly clear: nearly one-third of last year’s incidents occurred after the presidential election (see chart).  That’s a 167 percent increase in the number of hate crimes reported to the Montgomery County Police Department compared to the same period in 2015, according to a report issued by the MCPD.

              Reported Hate Crimes, 2016.                      Source: Montgomery County Police Department

Even more troubling, nearly half of hate-based vandalism reported last year happened at our county’s schools.  Since October, more than 35 bias incidents have been reported by or linked to schools, mostly involving vandalism with swastikas, and racial epithets.

This trend showed no signs of slowing in 2017. According to the Washington Post, bias incidents across our community have soared more than 80 percent compared with the first six month in 2016.  Among them were three noose incidents, an anti-Semitic message aimed at a student, and anti-LGBT vandalism.

This is unacceptable.

By any standard, Montgomery County is among the nation’s most culturally diverse places to live, with cities like Gaithersburg, Silver Spring and Germantown regularly topping national lists.  The benefits of living in a multi-cultural community are many. A growing batch of research shows that greater ethnic diversity boosts the competitiveness of cities, and spurs creativity and business growth, particularly in underserved neighborhoods.

Fortunately, our local leaders recognize the seriousness of the problem.  “The Montgomery County Police Department remains committed to upholding the civil and human rights of all people and reducing fear among our residents,” Chief J. Thomas Manger said in the bias report.

To assist residents, MCCRC and our allies regularly host training workshops across the county to teach residents how to identify what hate-base incidents or crimes look like, and how to safely intervene, if appropriate. “When people are targeted when walking or being blocked from a bathroom for example, if you don’t get a chance to practice or train for these situations, you may not know how to respond or be confident enough to respond,” says Jim Huang, a bystander intervention expert.  To date, nearly 4,000 people have  participated in these workshops.

Contact us or check MCCRC’s calendar for the next available training.

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