WASHINGTON (Jan. 13)
The State of Maryland and Montgomery County (Md.) are trying to stop the growing number of incidents aimed at Jews, Blacks and other minority groups by involving all elements of the community in an effort to combat bigotry.
This was stressed yesterday as Montgomery County Executive Charles Gilchrist received the Torch of Liberty Award from the District of Columbia-Maryland Region of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. The award, presented at a luncheon at B’nai B’rith headquarters here, commended Gilchrist for taking the lead to try to eradicate racially, religiously and ethnically motivated violence and vandalism in his county, a suburb of Washington.
“Silence condones, ” Constance Biems, chairperson of Maryland Governor Harry Hughes’ Task Force on Violence and Extremism, said. “To speak out (against incidents of bigotry) does not inflame.” Biems said that in appointing the task force which includes the three branches of the Maryland state government and county and local officials, Hughes said he did not want a report or proposals for new legislation.
INVOLVING THE PUBLIC, GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
Instead, administrative changes are being made as the need is found for them, Biems said, and the task force is trying to involve both the public and government officials in the problem. She said the task force right now is trying to alert local officials to be prepared for the problem when it begins to recur, probably in the spring.
Biems had particular praise for the Baltimore County police which, she said, are treating such incidents with the same “severity” as major crimes, such as rape and murder. She added that the participation of Baltimore County in the investigation of such incidents includes removing swastikas and crosses from the scene and alerting neighbors to the problem.
Alvin Steinberg, a member of the National Executive Committee of the ADL who presented the award to Gilchrist, noted that the ADL reported that anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. doubled in 1981 over 1980. But, he said, in Montgomery County, where there were 25 racially, religiously or ethnically motivated incidents in 1980, there were 100 in 1981, including 40 which were clearly anti-Semitic.
Steinberg also warned against silence and stressed that Montgomery County, under Gilchrist’s leadership has been trying to involve all sections of the community in the problem. Gilchrist, who was praised for stressing last year that the county would not condone such incidents, noted that “the entire community is committed to standing” by the victims of bigotry. He said some 400 people are members of a committee that seeks to support persons victimized by vandals.