A Maryland librarian is facing hate crime charges after police say he admitted to vandalizing two libraries in Prince George’s County last week.
It happened at the Greenbelt library last Thursday, and at the New Carrollton library Saturday. In both cases, the word “Groomer” was spray painted across entrances to the building.
June is Pride Month and last week D.C. celebrated Capital Pride Week.
Police arrested Charles Sutherland, 30, of Takoma Park, Wednesday night. Sutherland is a librarian himself, working at Northview Elementary in Bowie. Prince George’s County Public Schools System says he is now on administrative leave.
In a statement Thursday, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said anyone who “violates the right of another individual to live freely will be appropriately charged and prosecuted by my office.”
Prince George’s County libraries spokesperson Nicholas Alexander Brown said the library “vehemently condemns the defacement of its buildings.”
“The library will not waiver in its commitment to maintaining welcoming spaces to LGBTQ+ customers and their allies,” Brown added.
Brown said the troubling trend of incidents that target libraries is concerning.
“There was one last weekend in California. We know there’s been incidents in other types of institutions on the East Coast, as well.”
He went on to mention an incident in Baltimore City this week, where a pride flag was burned in a fire that tore through four row homes. Officials have not confirmed that what happened was a hate crime, The Associated Press reported.
“This is deeply concerning to us. We’ve seen the rise in this over the past several years along with all other kinds of hate incidents, and the LGBTQ+ community is a particular target here in the DMV area,” Brown said.
“We, as a library, are reaffirming our commitment to ensuring that our spaces are safe and welcoming for members of the LGBTQ+ community, but not just them,” Brown said. “It’s about everyone. We are here to support everyone and everyone’s needs, and anytime you need a resource or need some support, the library is here to help.”
Sutherland is charged with two counts of malicious destruction of property, as well as multiple hate crimes.