NewsIn Focus


Antisemitism in Maryland: Looking at hate crime data

October 27th marks four years since the deadliest antisemitic attack in US history
Posted: 5:06 PM, Oct 27, 2022
Updated: 2022-10-27 17:26:25-04
Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

Four years ago, eleven people were gunned down in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

With antisemitic rhetoric sparking conversation internationally and locally, we decided to take an in focus look at hate crimes in Maryland.

Maryland State Police provided us with its most recent Hate Bias Report for 2021.

According to the agency's data, anti-Jewish hate crime incidents account for more than 1 in 10 hate crime incidents, the second highest bias after anti-Black hate crimes.

Howard Libit, Executive Director of the Baltimore Jewish Council spoke with us about the scope of what we've seen in our region.

"We are seeing a surge in antisemitic incidents, both those reported to places like the anti Defamation League are those as reported by the Maryland state police and the FBI," says Libit. "But for the most part, those incidents have been things like graffiti, like a break-in at a synagogue, like a swastika scratched on a street sign or scratched on a Jewish person's car, things like that, that are certainly harmful and hurtful, but aren't of the level of violence that we've seen elsewhere in the country to this point."

This tracks with the MSP data on types of Incidents, with Vandalism/Malicious Destruction of Property and Verbal Intimidation accounting for 27.7% and 25.9% of the times of incidents.

Libit notes that when these incidents have happened, there's usually an outpouring of support here.

"Back in the summer of 2021, when we had a number of a Jewish cemetery vandalized, with a number of swastikas over in southeast Baltimore," he recalled. "A few days later, when we invited community leaders to join us to speak out we had an overwhelming turnout in a hot July day, to speak out against hate; Muslims, Catholics, Black ministers, political leaders of all types came together to speak out. And I think that's, that's the kind of response and the collective feeling we have here in Baltimore, which I really think is important and that we need to lean into at times like this."

Based on the MSP data, the number of anti-Jewish hate incidents has gone down between 2019 and 2021 in Maryland. However, overall numbers of hate incidents show these incidents trending upward over a ten year period.