Time to Vote Against Hate Crimes

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The Anne Arundel County Council will vote on an anti-hate resolution on June 5 introduced by Councilman Pete Smith, (D) District 5 (third from left). Those known to support the resolution include Chris Trumbauer (D) District 6 (second from rt.), Andrew Pruski (D) District 4 (fourth from rt.), and Jerry Walker (R), District 7 (right). Michael Perouka (R) District 5 (third from rt.) said those calling on him to sign onto the resolution are "exploiting" Collins' murder.

On Tuesday, May 30, 2017, I attended a packed meeting of the Anne Arundel County NAACP‘s forum on hate, which was held at the Nichols-Bethel United Methodist Church in Odenton, Maryland.

I looked around the audience and, with the exception of Annapolis Alderman Fred Paone and Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Wes Adams,  elected officials were conspicuously absent. Missing were Anne Arundel County Councilman John Grasso and Councilman Michael Peroutka, both of whom have not publicly indicated how they intend to vote on Monday, June 5, 2017, on an anti-hate resolution coming before the Anne Arundel County Council at 7:00 p.m.

As I listened to the panel members and Chief Tim Altomare talk about the process of bringing hate crime charges, what was painfully obvious is what was missing: righteous indignation.

I thought about how a year ago, nine black people in Bible study were murdered in a South Carolina church by a white supremacist, whom the police later took to Burger King to get a burger. I thought about the two men murdered last week in Portland, Oregon as they came to the defense of two Muslim women, who were being taunted by a white supremacist. Then, I thought about U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Richard Wilbur Collins, a Bowie State University student, who was fatally stabbed by a white University of Maryland college student and resident of Anne Arundel County, Sean Christopher Urbanski. I thought about the two men from Crofton, Maryland who hung a noose around a light fixture at Crofton Middle School.

“Hate crimes” have been occurring in this nation for centuries. People have a tendency to want to forget the ugly history of racism. They want to forget about the pain that it causes. I thought about the four little girls murdered in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 while attending Sunday School. I thought about James Byrd, Jr., who was murdered by three white supremacists in Jasper, Texas in 1998.

The more I thought about the missing politicians and the audacity of Councilman Peroutka to say that groups were “manipulating” these events, the more determined I am to call them out for the bigots that they are. If a politician cannot or will not vote to support an anti-hate resolution before the County Council in 2017, then we must do everything to make sure that those politicians are not elected or re-elected to any position in 2018. It is that simple.

Before voters go to the polls in the city of Annapolis in 2017 or the state of Maryland and the nation in 2018, we need to make it clear what the issues are. Please mark your calendar and plan to join us this coming Monday, June 5, 2017, 6:45 p.m. in front of the Civil Rights Foot Soldiers Memorial across from the Arundel Center, 44 Calvert Street, Annapolis, Maryland.

We intend to remind members of the Anne Arundel County Council something Joe Louis said decades ago: “You can run, but, you can’t hide.” Dropping the mic.

A Luta Continua!

Carl Snowden is a political and civil rights leader in Annapolis.

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