More swastikas were spray painted, chalked and penciled around Montgomery County last year than in 2018, according to the recently released 2019 Montgomery County Police Department’s 2019 Annual Report on Bias Incidents.
Of the 42 reports of incidents motivated by bias against a particular religion made to MCPD, 85.7 percent were against Jews, “despite Jewish persons making up only 10 percent of the population,” Police Chief Marcus Jones wrote in his introduction to the 30-page document.
The next largest religious bias was against Muslims, of which there were three reports in 2019, one fewer than 2018.
“I am disappointed to report to you that the incidence of bias crimes in Montgomery County is increasing. As we work to build our multicultural county with understanding and compassion, the trend that we have seen since the 2016 election continues to plague us,” Jones wrote.
During 2019, there were 114 reported bias incidents, 22.6 percent more than were reported in 2018. In addition to religion, bias incidents involved race, sexual orientation, ethnicity and gender.
Most of the bias incidents against Jews involved vandalism and graffiti, and consisted mainly of swastikas and anti-Semitic phrases and statements, according to the report. The majority of the incidents took place in schools.
Of the 32 school-related incidents reported to MCPD, 59.4 percent were anti-Semitic in nature.
Incidents occurred most frequently in Bethesda and Rockville, according to the report.
The ADL, whose self-described mission “is to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all,” called the report concerning.
“We continue to be concerned about the rising number of crimes and incidents motivated by bias in Montgomery County — 9.5 documented incidents of hate and bias per month is simply still too high,” said Doron F. Ezickson, ADL vice president for the Mid-Atlantic/Mid-West Division.
“We appreciate MCPD’s attention to detail and local reporting procedures. We note the disturbing trend that 85.7 percent of the religious bias incidents were anti-Jewish and 80 percent of the racial bias incidents were considered anti-Black. We all have a responsibility to remain vigilant and work together to strengthen our communities collectively against the effects of bias and bigotry.”
At the end of the county’s report, there is a list of every incident in general terms, referring only to a middle or a high school and not a particular school, for instance. Except for October, there were incidents of anti-Jewish bias every month.
In January, swastikas were found at a construction site and a high school. In February, two high schools were the scene of anti-Semitic graffiti, including one incident that took place while the students were learning about World War II. That month, anti-Semitic graffiti also was spray painted at a park and used as a meme in a middle school Google classroom page.
In March, the incidents occurred at a middle school and a private school, where a student sent two anti-Semitic photos through social media to a Jewish student.
In April, an attorney reported receiving anti-Semitic emails and anti-Semitic vandalism occurred in an apartment stairwell and to a vehicle. In May, swastikas and other anti-Jewish graffiti were found on a road, a playground, five middle schools, two high schools and one elementary school.
The following month, a middle school and a vacant home were vandalized, and in July, the anti-Semitic statements and swastikas occurred in a park and on a street, according to the report.
In August, it was a golf course and in September, a sidewalk and cars were targeted. In November, a car, high school and middle school were defaced. In the last month of the year, anti-Semitic incidents occurred three times in middle schools.
In May, the ADL released its 2019 report, noting a decrease in anti-Semitic incidents throughout Washington, Maryland and Virginia, although incidents throughout the entire country reached an all-time high.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were 2,107 acts of anti-Semitic hate across the United States, which is a 12 percent increase from 2018. There also was a 56 percent increase in anti-Semitic assaults and five fatalities.
In Maryland, there were 20 incidents reported, including 11 acts of vandalism and eight harassment incidents. In Washington, there were six incidents of vandalism and 13 of harassment. In Virginia, there were 28 incidents, 12 of which involved vandalism and 16 harassment.