Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart has released a statement on two recent incidents that occurred in the city, one of which is being investigated as a possible hate crime.
Below is Mayor Stewart’s statement:
“Two disturbing events recently took place in our community, and I wanted to provide an update on actions being taken and to reiterate our commitment to creating an equitable and inclusive community in which all residents can live with dignity and respect.
“The first event was a woman who vandalized public art at the Gazebo. The actions and destruction of the image of a Black woman were shocking and appalling to witness. The Maryland-National Capital Park Police, who are handling the incident, have identified a suspect. Currently, the State’s Attorney’s office is reviewing the case to determine if charges will be filed. The City is working with the Old Town Business Association (OTBA), who commissioned the art, to ensure repairs are made. OTBA has stated that they are waiting to hear back on this and, once the information is available, will work with the artist, the City, and community leaders to determine what the next steps will be. OTBA and I have also been in contact with the Montgomery County Chapter of the NAACP regarding the incident. Our work cannot stop at restoring the art. The defacement of this art starkly illustrates the need to continue to fight anti-Black racism.
“The other event was the spray painting of a swastika on a car parked in a resident’s driveway. Our Police Dept responded to the call and is investigating the incident. It has also been reported to the Montgomery County hate crimes unit. We know that there has been a recent rise in deadly attacks and historical violence toward Jewish people, and to have this happen in our own community is deeply disturbing. As a City, we strongly denounce anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial, and distortions about Judaism and Jewish life and culture. Last January, the City Council passed a Resolution, Upholding Commitment to Human Rights and Inclusivity.
“As we begin 2021, I would like us as a community to recommit ourselves to anti-racist work and reaffirm our commitment to building a welcoming, inclusive community that celebrates diversity and strives for equity and respect for all. We live in a community of people with a great deal of expertise, and we welcome suggestions on concrete steps we can take to advance this work in our City in the weeks and months ahead.”
Photo courtesy The City of Takoma Park