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The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Montgomery County Council launches anti-hate task force

Montgomery+County+Council+President+Evan+Glass+addresses+the+anti-hate+task+force+in+their+first+meeting.++He+was+elected+to+serve+on+the+council+in+2018+and+since+then+has+been+a+major+advocate+of+social+justice+and+environmental+issues.
Photo courtesy Montgomery County Council
Montgomery County Council President Evan Glass addresses the anti-hate task force in their first meeting. He was elected to serve on the council in 2018 and since then has been a major advocate of social justice and environmental issues.

The Montgomery County Council (MCC) unanimously passed a resolution to create a temporary anti-hate task force this past June. The task force arrives during a surge of reported hate crimes in Montgomery County and aims to provide recommendations to the council regarding anti-hate policies.

According to the Montgomery County Police Department’s Annual Bias Report, there were 157 reported bias incidents in 2022, the highest amount since this type of reporting process began in 2015. MCC President Evan Glass was the lead sponsor on the resolution to create the task force and cites these numbers as a driving force behind his leadership on the initiative.

“Hate crimes are on the rise in Montgomery County, across the DC region and unfortunately across the United States… This hate speech is happening at political rallies, it’s happening online, and it’s unfortunately happening in our community,” Glass said. “So we have to do everything we can to let people know that hate has no home here in Montgomery County, and the task force is one of the ways that we’re doing that.”

The Montgomery County Anti-Hate Task Force has been meeting virtually in full and in cohorts that represent the groups most targeted by hate in the county and across the United States. Cohorts of the task force include African American and Black, Latino and Hispanic, Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI), LGBTQ+, Jewish and Muslim communities.

“I formed the committee with the support of all of my colleagues, and we’ve been meeting all summer long. The goal is to have a comprehensive report compiled by the end of November so that we can then review the suggestions and ideas and then start taking even more action to make everybody feel safe,” Glass said.

While the task force has already been creating a safe space for individuals to voice their concerns and frustration, this is only one part of the objective. Glass looks to measure progress quantitatively as well.

“How we enact and adopt those suggestions will be the [another] measure of progress. The final measure will be when we see a decline in hate crimes. We have to acknowledge that the hateful sentiments out there can be shared with one click and one tweet. It will be hard to change all of America’s opinions, but we want to make sure that we open hearts and minds here at home,” Glass said.

Many feel more at ease knowing that the county is committed to making changes.

“I feel safer at school and I think that the county can involve students in what they think needs to be changed in schools,” freshman Lucy Stutz said.

The goals of the anti-hate task force are especially relevant to the WJ community which experienced several anti-semitic incidents earlier this year, notably graffiti at Rock Creek Trail, Walt Whitman High School and other locations in the Bethesda area. The WJ building was also vandalized with racist and homophobic graffiti in 2021.

“It was scary knowing that something like that could happen so close to home, but I’m glad that the county is now taking action to make sure that our community isn’t hurt like that again,” junior Ellen Johns said.

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Maya Panicker, Print News Editor
Junior Maya Panicker is excited for her first year with the Pitch as a Print News Editor. Maya enjoys playing soccer for WJ and going out with friends.
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