BALTIMORE, Md. - There are at least 19 hate groups in Maryland. That's according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
People from all walks of life joined community activists and leaders to speak out against hate Thursday night.
"Racism is an acquired trait it’s so important for us to recognize that even though it’s something that’s learned, it can be unlearned," said Zainab Chaudry with CAIR.
The Center for Hate and Extremism reports that hate crimes rose 12.5 percent in 2017 in the 10 largest U.S. cities. This is the fourth year in a row that these crimes have increased; it's the second year the community gathered to try to stop the trend.
"This brings public awareness. Not only about what’s happening nationwide but what’s happening in our state," said Susan Radka with Catonsville Indivisible Group.
In a moving tribute, the names of people lost to hate, racism or other phobias were called; a reminder of how much work still needs to be done.
"It is so important that we just learn to love each other and to accept each other and learn about each other. Strengths, weaknesses, that’s how we get a long," said resident, Kate Beveridge.
Through song, prayer and solemn remembrance, everyone pledged to do their part to unite instead of separate.
"We have a crisis in our society when school aged children ask a child what he’s carrying in his backpack because his fame is Mohamed. We have a crisis in our society when a child who wears a yarmulka is teased and harassed and bullied," said Chaudry.