Montgomery County tops the state in the number of hate crimes and bias incidents reported in 2019.
That’s according to a report compiled by the Maryland State Police and the state’s Coordination and Analysis Center.
Statewide, there were 385 incidents reported last year, including “verified” and “inconclusive” cases.
A verified incident is defined as one that would lead “a reasonable and prudent person to conclude that the offender’s actions were motivated in whole or in part” by bias against the victim’s race, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or homeless status.
Inconclusive cases are defined as those where the evidence is “conflicting, incomplete or otherwise insufficient” to classify it as verified.
Montgomery County had 108 cases, six of which were found to be “verified.”
Broken down by ZIP code, the Rockville area showed the greatest number of incidents in Montgomery County. There were 12 incidents reported in 2019.
In Anne Arundel County, there were a total of 81 cases reported. Baltimore County had 71 cases, Howard County had 49 and Prince George’s County had 33 reports of hate and bias incidents.
There were 15 verified reports that involved the use of Ku Klux Klan materials or vandalism that involved defacing surfaces with the letters “KKK.”
The report makes clear it can’t be assumed that the offenders in those cases were actually members of the KKK.
Statewide, the greatest number of reported incidents happened at elementary and secondary schools and college and university campuses. In fact, more than a third of reported incidents took place at academic institutions.
The second most-common location for reported bias incidents were residences.
There’s an economic cost to hate: According to the report, vandalism and thefts cost a total of $82,504 in 2019.
A total of 16 people were arrested in suspected hate or bias incidents in 2019.
Maryland state lawmakers have tackled issues surrounding hate and bias crimes, including those targeting people based on their gender, sexual orientation and homeless status. In 2014, transgender people were added to the list of protected classes in Maryland.
The most recent legislative action took place in the 2020 General Assembly session, with a law making it illegal to use hate symbols like nooses and swastikas to intimidate or threaten someone.