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Howard County police investigating racist vandalism at Glenwood Middle School

A marquee sign with the phrase “Black Lives Matter” outside Glenwood Middle School was vandalized late last week, the Howard County Public School System announced Monday.

The word “Black” in the phrase was covered with spray paint to remove the word’s appearance on the sign, according to a news release from the school system. The district learned of the vandalism Saturday and then notified the Howard County Police Department.

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Police spokesperson Seth Hoffman said the department is investigating the vandalism as a “hate-bias incident.”

The paint has been cleared off, and the phrase is once again intact on the marquee sign.

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“The Howard County Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano unequivocally condemn this vandalism and the racism underlying it,” the release states. “We believe the lives of our Black and brown students and staff should not be diminished and devalued in this way. We reiterate our support for the fact that Black lives matter.”

The incident is the latest in a stretch of instances in which Martirano and the board have released statements of condemnation in the past several months.

In early January, the same day as the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the Howard County Board of Education building in Ellicott City was broken into after a man threw rocks through the glass front door. Nothing was taken from the board’s headquarters, and police said they are investigating the incident as a commercial burglary.

A month earlier, Martirano issued a rebuke of online “bullying” of the Board of Education’s student member. On the same day, a small group of people protested outside of board member Jen Mallo’s home. Multiple board members commented about it at the end of the meeting or posted on social media to condemn the protest.

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The incident at Glenwood Middle is also the latest act of racism involving Howard County schools in the past several years.

In 2014, a Glenelg High School student was disciplined for displaying a Confederate flag as a fan during a football game at River Hill High School. The flag was removed by a Glenelg school officially shortly after it was displayed. Five days after that incident, two Glenelg students then went to school with Confederate flags draped over their shoulders.

Two years after the incidents at Glenelg, more than 150 students from Mt. Hebron High School walked out of classes to protest a racist video released on social media depicting a white student calling Black people an “inferior race.”

In 2018, four Glenelg students were arrested and charged with hate crimes after police said they painted swastikas and racial slurs — one of which was directed at the school’s Black principal, David Burton — on campus sidewalks, walls and parking lot.

The four — Tyler Curtiss, Matthew Lipp, Joshua Shaffer and Seth Taylorwere indicted in July 2018 by the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office. They were sentenced between March and April 2019, all receiving various consecutive weekend jail sentences at the Howard County Detention Center.

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