Although Montgomery County Police say they are investigating the posting of white supremacist fliers on the front door of the Montgomery County Republican Party headquarters as an act of vandalism, MCGOP Central Committee Chairman Richard Jurgena says the posting of those fliers is a hate crime against Republicans by those who aim to smear them as racists.
"It is indeed an act to smear our party with an implication that we support the beliefs of the posters, which we definitely do not believe in or support in any way," Jurgena said. "We believe this was a hate crime."
Late Saturday evening around 10:00 p.m. security footage recorded two individuals approaching the front door of the GOP office on Crabbs Branch Way with what appeared to be a jar containing a liquid mixture and white paper posters.
A photo provided by Jurgena shows four posters bearing the logo of the Patriots’ Front – a white supremacist group – as well as the address of the Bloodandsoil.com website attached to the office’s entrance. The website accessible at the Bloodandsoil.com address features a manifesto that appears to be consistent with white supremacist views.
Jurgena said he wasn’t sure what the cost to repair any damage might be, but speculated that the recently-repainted door might need to be replaced.
Jurgena’s claim that the incident was a hate crime is reflective of a trend amongst some conservatives who are sympathetic to the so-called “alt-right” – a vocal group of supporters of President Donald Trump whose rhetoric often aligns with white supremacists, white nationalists, and neo-Nazis – to suggest that the rise in actual hate crimes committed since Trump’s election (documented by statistics) due to hoaxes perpetuated by Trump’s enemies who seek to brand him and his movement as racists.
Proponents of this theory often cite an incident earlier this year when a mentally-disturbed former journalist called bomb threats into a number of Jewish Community Centers across several states in an attempt to harass a former girlfriend. While the calls made by that particular person were hoaxes, there has been a documented rise in threats against synagogues and other Jewish community gathering places since Trump’s presidential campaign began in 2015.
However, despite Jurgena’s assertion that he and his fellow Republicans are victims of a hate crime, Montgomery County Police Spokesperson Sgt. Rebecca Innocenti said the act does not meet the necessary state or federal criteria to be considered one.
“If this is a political affiliation, a political party just by itself it is not a protected class,” Innocenti said. "The law is clear on what a hate crime is."
Maryland’s hate crime statute – which was passed in 2005 and signed into law by then-Governor Robert Ehrlich (R) – only covers crimes committed because of a person’s race or color, natural origin, religious beliefs, gender, disability status, or because a person was homeless.
Only six US jurisdictions – California, Iowa, Louisiana, South Carolina, West Virginia and the District of Columbia – consider a person part of a protected class because of political affiliation.
Innocenti said police will still investigate the crime as an incident of vandalism, and encouraged anyone with information to call Montgomery County Police.