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Man charged with hate crimes after spray painting anti-LGBTQ+ messages on 2 Prince George's Co. libraries

Charles Sutherland of Takoma Park told police that he spray-painted "Groomer" on two public libraries during Capital Pride week.

GREENBELT, Md. — A Takoma Park man has been charged with two counts of malicious destruction of property and multiple hate crimes related to defacing buildings after vandalizing two Prince George's County libraries.

Charles Sutherland confessed to being the person behind the anti-LGBTQ+ message at the Greenbelt and New Carrolton public libraries according to Prince George's County police.  

The 30-year-old reportedly spray-painted the word "groomer" at the Greenbelt location on Saturday, June 4 just hours after they held a Pride event with a drag performer.

Days later the same word was found at the New Carrolton library on June 9.

The Prince George's County Memorial Library System has condemned these actions.

"We are particular forward with our messaging around LGBTQ+ inclusion because there is so much oppression against the LGBTQ+ community nationally, but also here locally," said Nick Brown from the library system. 

The vandalism is thought to have stemmed from the series of pride events the library system is hosting during the month of June, including drag bingo and story times. The libraries say they have no plans to change or modify their events despite the latest attack.

"We are really here to make sure that the message comes across clear that our libraries are here for the LGBTQ+ communities and that will not be changing, and we are steadfast in that support," said Brown.  

Credit: Prince George's County Police

Community members like Sam McCray were upset over the news of the vandalism. 

"Everyone has an opinion but there is no reason to vandalize anything, especially a library," McCray said. "There are children there, older people are going to the library and no one should feel like they have a problem going there." 

Prince George's County State Attorney, Aisha Braveboy put out the following statement on the matter: 

"The Prince George’s County Police have charged a man with multiple hate crimes and destruction of property and have accused him of writing homophobic slurs on two libraries.

I cannot comment directly on this specific case since it is still under review. However, I will say as State’s Attorney and as a human being, I condemn all acts of violence, hate and discrimination. No one should be afraid, intimidated or harassed for living their truth and expressing who they are regardless of their race, creed, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion.

Anyone who violates the right of another individual to live freely will be appropriately charged and prosecuted by my office.

 I successfully fought in Annapolis to strengthen the hate crime law to ensure my prosecutors and others in Maryland have the tools to appropriately charge such crimes. In addition, I created the first-ever LGBTQ Task Force in the State’s Attorney’s Office to assist with issues of concern with individuals in that community.

My office supports justice for all people and will not tolerate actions of hate. It is especially paramount during Pride Month to share this message of equality and acceptance of all human beings."

Prince George's County Police asks anyone with information about Sutherland to contact them at (301) 699-2601. 

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