Reports of hate-related vandalism in Maryland schools nearly doubled between 2016 and 2017

Not one week into the school year and the University of Maryland Police Department already had begun investigating two “hate-bias”-related incidents on the College Park campus after students discovered a swastika and anti-LGBT messages scrawled on whiteboards in separate dorms.

The latest incidents came after reports of hate-related vandalism in schools nearly doubled to 62 in 2017, from 34 the year before, according to Maryland State Police records. The incident reports cover elementary school to college.

“We are very concerned about what’s happening in schools,” said Doron Ezickson, the Washington regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, an international organization that fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry. “Every indicator shows that hate is on the rise over last two to three years.”

The reported school vandalism in Maryland included more than 50 swastikas and 30 N-words over the two years, according to police records.

For example, on March 24, 2017, Glenelg High School in Howard County reported eight swastikas drawn around the words "f*** [N-word]" in a school bathroom, pictures of which were posted on the Snapchat social media app. On Oct. 8, 2017, Glenelg reported racist slurs among other hate-related graffiti about religion and sexual orientation spray painted onto the baseball and softball dugouts.

Those incidents came before four white seniors were arrested and charged with hate crimes in May of this year after allegedly vandalizing school property with swastikas and racist slurs targeting the African-American school principal.

At Relay Elementary in Baltimore County on Feb. 27 last year, a Baltimore County police officer observed swastikas, "Kill Jews and [n-word]" written in various colors of chalk on the sidewalk and walls.

Goucher College administrators reported four separate vandalism incidents in March, September and November last year, including threatening messages “[N-word] die” and "trans only good dead” in the Mary Fisher and Welsh Hall dormitories.

University of Maryland Baltimore County police reported a rash of swastikas across the campus after the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017.

Records show that most of the vandalism incidents reported in schools between 2016 and 2017 were classified as “inconclusive.” That means they were not reported to the FBI for its annual hate crime reporting because police were unable to find offenders or other evidence to determine a hate or bias motive.

Vandalism is just one of the more than 200 hate-bias incidents reported at schools over the last two years to the Maryland State Police, to which all the state’s police departments must report hate-bias incidents. Another more common incident was written intimidation, including leaflet distribution by hate groups.

The Anti-Defamation League reported that distributions of white supremacist propaganda on U.S. college campuses nearly doubled during the 2017-2018 school year.

Identity Evropa, a group focused on the preservation of “white American culture,” was responsible for nearly half of the 478 incidents reported during the last school year. The University of Maryland College Park police reported a distribution by the group on March 27 last year.

Seven Maryland primary and secondary schools including Baltimore’s Mount Saint Joseph High School participated in the ADL’s “No Place for Hate” program during the last school year, according to ADL’s website. The program teaches students about respecting differences.

The Baltimore Sun is partnering with newsrooms around the country in a ProPublica-led project to collect recent and reliable data on hate crimes in the United States. If you have been the victim of a hate crime, please use this form to contribute to this database.

crentz@baltsun.com

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