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How Maryland lawmakers dealt with hate crimes in their yearly session

Rachel Baye
The Maryland State House.

Victims of hate crimes in Maryland can now sue their attackers under a bill signed into law by Governor Wes Moore this week. It’s one of a handful of bills that lawmakers passed during their yearly session that deal with hate crimes, as Anti-Semitism incidents in particular are rising in the state.

SB5/HB13, which allows for victims to take civil action, takes effect October 1st. Senate president Bill Ferguson says that’s not soon enough. “In Maryland, we had 109 reported incidents of Anti-Semitism in 2022,” Ferguson said at a bill-signing ceremony Tuesday. “(That’s) a 98% increase from 2021 according to the Anti-Defamation League’s annual audit of anti-Semetic incidents.”

Even with that rise in Anti-Semitism, the vast majority of what the state refers to as ‘hate bias incidents’ in Maryland are still against Black residents - almost 44% of the overall total in 2021, the last full year of statistics from the state.

Hate Bias Incidents in Maryland in 2021. Courtesy of the State of Maryland 2021 Hate Bias Report.
Courtesy of the State of Maryland 2021 Hate Bias Report

50% of offenders that year were white - with the race of 29% of offenders not known to authorities.

Hate Bias Offender Population chart. Courtesy of the State of Maryland 2021 Hate Bias Report.
Courtesy of the State of Maryland 2021 Hate Bias Report

Lawmakers also approved two other bills in response to the rise in hate crimes:

SB840 - Establishes the Protecting Against Hate Crimes Grant Fund within the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services. Money from the fund will go non-profits, including faith-based organizations, for security upgrades to protect against hate crimes

SB841 - Requires the Governor to put $500-thousand in the annual state budget for grants to local school systems to pay for field trips to ‘museums of cultural import’. The bill identifies four such museums - The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.; The Jewish Museum of Maryland andThe Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture in Baltimore.

SB842/HB1244 also make January 27th Maryland Holocaust Remembrance Day to coincide with International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On January 27, 1945, Soviet troops liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

Matt Bush spent 14 years in public radio prior to coming to WYPR as news director in October 2022. From 2008 to 2016, he worked at Washington D.C.’s NPR affiliate, WAMU, where he was the station’s Maryland reporter. He covered the Maryland General Assembly for six years (alongside several WYPR reporters in the statehouse radio bullpen) as well as both Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. @MattBushMD
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