xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Our View: Trend is nice, but remain vigilant in reporting hate crimes

We won’t read too much into the fact that only one crime in Carroll County has been classified as a hate crime this year after only one crime in Carroll County was classified as a hate crime in 2018 when some neighboring counties have dozens per year. This could be attributable to under-reporting or to slightly different investigatory practices or to the simple fact that there are fewer vulnerable groups in Carroll. Besides, even one is one too many.

Still, one is a strikingly low number considering the way hate crimes have been on the rise, in Maryland and across the country.

Advertisement

According to statistics from the FBI, hate crimes in the United States rose modestly from 2014 (when 5,479 were reported) to 2015 (5,850) to 2016 (6,121). Then, the number spiked to 7,175 in 2017 — a massive a one-year increase of 1,054 or 15%. The numbers leveled off to 7,120 last year.

According to Maryland State Police statistics, Carroll’s neighbors have followed a similar trajectory. Frederick County had nine hate crimes in 2016, 11 in 2017 and 17 in 2018. Howard County had 33 hate crimes in 2016, 43 in 2017, and 58 in 2018. Baltimore County rose from 49 hate crimes in 2015 to 73 in 2016, then to 103 in 2017, though the total dipped to 76 in 2018.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Meanwhile, Carroll appears to be the reverse. The highest number of hate crimes reported in the past 10 years in Carroll was in 2009, when there were 10, according to state police statistics. A total of just six hate crimes have been reported since 2015.

The term “hate” can be misleading, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, because it does not refer to rage or anger or general dislike but rather to bias against people or groups with specific characteristics. The Justice Department defines hate crimes as “crimes committed on the basis of the victim’s perceived or actual race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.” In Maryland, “homeless” is added to that list.

The “crime” in hate crime is often a violent crime, such as assault, murder, arson, vandalism, or threats to commit such crimes, according to the Justice Department.

However, according to the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, hate crimes in Carroll are not commonly violent attacks. Maj. Charles Rapp noted that the one hate crime reported in 2018 as well as the one from earlier this year were destruction of property crimes. "And that’s typically what we get out here,” he told us.

Advertisement

In July, Stoney Ridge Missionary Baptist Church in Marriottsville was vandalized with graffiti of swastikas and offensive language. The only hate crime in 2018 was an incident in Taneytown during which a racial slur was written on a Chinese restaurant.

McDaniel College sociology professor Richard Smith told us the reasons for Carroll’s comparative lack of hate crimes could include other counties being more aggressive in their reporting and Carroll County’s relative lack of diversity leaving fewer potential victims. He also noted that the leaders of Carroll County Public Schools “really focus on equity, diversity and inclusion” and credited organizations such as the local chapter of the NAACP and Carroll Citizens for Racial Equality.

"All of them do great work throughout the year to try to help to make Carroll County a better place,” Smith told us.

We’re glad they do. And we’re glad the county has seen so few hate crimes in recent years given the current political climate. But we need to remain vigilant as a community. Hate crimes are particularly odious and if circumstances arise, they need to be reported, investigated and prosecuted.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement