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Maryland General Assembly considers permanent body to tackle hate crimes, antisemitism

A bill passing through Maryland’s General Assembly aims to establish a permanent Commission on Hate Crime Response and Prevention at a time that antisemitism is on the rise in parts of the state, as well as nationally and internationally.


Maryland now has a hate-crimes task force funded by a temporary U.S. Department of Justice grant. The task force lacks independent funding or staff.


“We have a crisis right now in Maryland and in the country when it comes to hate crimes,” Joe Vogel, the Democratic state delegate who introduced the bill, told JNS. “We need to take a holistic look at the problem and come up with solutions that are going to really have an extensive and expansive impact on addressing this problem.”


The issue is personal to Vogel, who came to America from Uruguay as a 3-year-old with his parents.


“I’m Jewish, gay and a Latino immigrant to this country,” he told JNS. “I am bringing my perspective to this bill.”


The bill would include the assignment of a full-time assistant attorney general to the commission. If passed, starting in 2024, the commission would issue annual reports by Dec. 1. It would also recommend policies to address hate crimes in schools and make legislative recommendations to address hate crimes in state.


“Communities that are so often affected by hate crimes need to be at the center of the conversation of how we are going to respond to these acts,” said Vogel, a resident of Montgomery County, which has made headlines these past few months as a result of multiple incidents of antisemitism. “This commission will bring everyone to the table.”


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