Hate, anti-Semitism up in Montgomery County

Members of Ohev Sholom – The National Synagogue gather at the Episcopal Church of Our Savior in Silver Spring in November to show support following the church being vandalized with the words “Trump Nation Whites Only.”
Photo by Reuven Walder

Although Jews are roughly 3 percent of Montgomery County’s population, 84 percent of incidents “motivated by bias toward religion” were classified as “anti-Jewish,” according to Montgomery County Police Department’s annual bias report.

In total, 94 bias-related incidents occurred in the county in 2016, a 42 percent rise from 2015. Thirty-two of those incidents were considered “anti-Jewish.”

“The mere fact the offender is biased against the victim does not mean that a hate crime occurred,” the report states. “Rather, the offender’s criminal act must have been motivated, in whole or in part, by his or her bias against a race, ethnicity, religion, sex, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or homelessness.”

The incidents were broken down by type into vandalism, flyers, verbal intimidation, physical assault, written intimidation and miscellaneous. Vandalism was overwhelmingly the most prevalent with 40 reported incidents.
The report, which was released last week, also confirmed suspicions of a spike in hate crimes following the presidential election.

Bias-related incidents nearly doubled in November and December compared to previous months with 18 and 14 incidents reported, respectively. By comparison, no more than nine incidents were reported in any other month.

The police department’s numbers are likely smaller than the number of crimes that actually happened because it is estimated only one in three hate crimes are reported, according to a 2016 Department of Justice study.

MCPD Police Chief Tom Manger has previously said MCPD uses a broader definition for hate crimes than the FBI. For example, if a swastika is drawn on a school bus window, the FBI is unlikely to consider that a hate crime, but MCPD will. n

jkatz@midatlanticmedia.com

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