Hate-based incidents on the rise across Montgomery County say police, school leaders

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GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Messages of hate have popped up at schools, churches and other places where minority groups gather at an alarming rate according to the Montgomery County Police Department.

The department said it has a high bar to consider an act a hate crime. Still it reports at 34-percent increase in hate crimes since November.

“We have seen a spike since the election,” said Lt. Oneil Ormsby, who added that MCPD usually deals with an average of 66 hate crimes every year. “Most are really hate or bias incidents. If you have say a swastika written on something that is vandalism; that’s the vast majority of our hate crimes, usually.”

Ormsby drew a connection between the election of Donald Trump as president and the uptick in incidents involving racial slurs or insults towards minority groups.

Police believe educating the public about the increase in incidents could help many in the public become aware of the situation which could be an advantage to the people being victimized.

Ormsby said verbal harassment is a situation they’ve encountered too often.

“If they see someone doing something that’s just nice to their neighbor and it’s safe to do so— intervene,” said Ormsby. “Like if you see someone being harassed on a public bus or subway ask the person doing it to stop or just sit next to the person being attacked; change the conversation.”

Schools in Montgomery County have been dealing with harassment complaints and bigoted vandalism since the beginning of the school year.

Even after a video message partially addressing the issue was released by the district’s Superintendent the school district the district has continued to see too many incidents of the hate-based vandalism.

School district leaders are preparing a letter to go home with students making parents away of the increase in incidents across the district.

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