SPEAKER: The son is walking up and down in front of the house of this black family, waving a Confederate flag. They are yelling racial slurs at them, “We’re going to kill you, nigger.”
TAYA GRAHAM, TRNN: It was a public display of a symbol of the Confederacy, targeted at an African-American family in Baltimore County. An expression of hostility that received little attention until Morgan State radio host Sean Yoes broke the story.
SEAN YOES: I would say 48-72 hours after we initially reported on it, 48 hours later, for police to actually go and then start patrolling the area, and still there was some ambiguity about the level of protection that they received. Because the father and son came back. There was an initially kind of altercation, and for a day or so nothing happened, and then they came back.
GRAHAM: Charged with assault was a father and son. But according to Baltimore County police, it was not a hate crime. In fact, the FBI recently released statistics on hate crime across the United States and Maryland reported nearly the lowest number of hate crimes in the country. Just 16 separate incidents, lower than Idaho, North Dakota, and Maine, states with smaller populations and exponentially fewer African-Americans. In fact, Maryland is one of the four states with the highest percentage of African-Americans, which are also relatively hate crime-free. Two other states with the largest black populations, Louisiana and Mississippi, reported less than ten incidents. And in Baltimore County, where this crime occurred, zero hate crimes were reported.
We asked Baltimore County police for comment on the number and the crime. They pointed us to a table in the report which shows agencies within the state that experienced not a single hate crime. However, they did not elaborate on the charges from the incident in Rosedale.
But zero is a number that some find disturbing, and perhaps not an accurate reflection of race relations in Baltimore.
YOES: Raising questions about numbers, statistics, in my mind is not–it’s vital.
GRAHAM: And perhaps recognition that the hate crime laws are not designed to address the more subtle incidents of racism that occur with regularity.
JILL CARTER: I think it’s just how you–it’s how you decide to define what a hate crime is. And sure, under the law there’s certain things you can’t discriminate against or commit crimes because of, out of hatred of race, or religion, or I think homelessness, as a possibility of being a hate crime. But domestic violence is a hate crime. You know, rape is a hate crime. Illegal arrests are hate crimes. So I think that it’s just how you define it.
GRAHAM: Case in point may be the experience of Bria Johnson, a student at Towson University. She was one of a group of African-American students who confronted administration officials regarding racial inequality on campus. One of their concerns is what they called microaggressions. But Towson University also reported zero hate crimes.
BREYA JOHNSON: Well, for me personally, I do remember my first week here I was called the n-word. So that’s why this is such a passionate thing for me. Because I could have left, I could have gone to an HBCU, but I chose to stay and make this a safe space. And I have a friend who recently came to me at work crying because she was called that twice. And it got to the point where she’s filling out an application to leave. And I had to beg her to believe in me enough to make this a safe space for her mental and emotional health.
GRAHAM: The numbers don’t paint an accurate picture, says Yoes, who writes a column on race relations for the Afro-American Newspaper. He says it’s missing a piece to an impalpable puzzle of racial disharmony in a state which purports to have none.
YOES: There’s so many different issues that become obscured because I think the powers that be, the city just doesn’t think people are paying attention. And because of that they feel like they can get away with it.
GRAHAM: This is Taya Graham and Stephen Janis reporting for the Real News Network in Baltimore City, Maryland.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.