MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Data shows the number of hate crimes allegedly committed against Jews in Montgomery County has skyrocketed so far in 2023, as the local school system continues to deal with more incidents of hate in its campuses.
Last week, people found antisemitic flyers at Northwood High School in Silver Spring for the second time in two weeks.
It was at least the fifth Montgomery County school to deal with an antisemitic incident in recent months.
Montgomery County Police Department data shows 19 alleged “anti-Jewish” crimes have already been committed in 2023, compared to five similar incidents this same time last year. There were only 48 such crimes reported in Montgomery County during the entirety of 2022.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones spoke about the issue during a press conference Monday in downtown Silver Spring.
Elrich said hateful rhetoric ratcheted up across the country at the beginning of President Donald Trump’s administration.
“Hate got a license again and we have to struggle with that and we’re going to continue to push back,” he said.
Elrich added he sometimes worries recent headlines in Montgomery County Public Schools and elsewhere in the county could turn people away from living in his otherwise diverse community.
“I worry about all of that and I worry about the communities that are targeted by all of this,” he said.
MCPS Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight issued a statement about antisemitism in late September. She said the school system was doing all it could to teach children about its dangers.
“MCPS is committed to educating our students on the harmful impacts of antisemitism throughout history,” the statement reads. “We know education is a large part of the answer. Our curriculum teaches students about the seeds of antisemitism, starting as early as Grade 4 through Grade 12.”
Jones said it was important to note Montgomery County is not the only community in the D.C. region dealing with this issue. The Montgomery police chief said the county makes a considerable effort to report incidents of hate and bias, more than many other Maryland communities.
“When you look at the state numbers, you’ll see it’s evident because you’ll see Montgomery County’s numbers very high and you’ll see other jurisdictions where there’s very little if any reporting,” Jones said.
Montgomery County Police incident reports showed 12 cases of alleged bias and hate happened in schools in the county in January.
Police classified nine of those cases as being anti-Jewish. Most of those incidents allegedly involved people drawing swastikas on pieces of school property.
The Montgomery County Police Department has been requested to assist in the investigation of 877 hate crimes against various groups dating back to 2016, according to the department.
In that time span, data shows anti-Black incidents have been the only bias-related crimes reported to local police more than anti-Jewish ones. One-third of all hate crimes allegedly committed in Montgomery County since 2016 were also categorized as anti-Jewish.
Since 2018, with exception to one year, 2021, hate crimes reported against Jews have been on the rise too.