meeting news story enhanced for an online audience The County Council heard about the hate crimes in a report from sheriff during the County Council’s regularly scheduled Tuesday night meeting. The Sheriff’s Office is seeing a rise in hate crimes in Harkensville County. Sheriff Noah Lane said his office has investigated 54 hate crimes and bias incidents this year, which is up 21 percent from last year. Most of the incidents have occurred since the summer, including an Israeli flag burning on Monroe gh School’s football field, a swastika painted on a fence near the front doors to the Libertyville library and racist graffiti spray-painted on cars parked at Steiner’s Grocery. He also said a Pakistani exchange student was attacked outside the Pennywhistle Diner. A Baptist church was vandalized with the words “Whites only.” County Commissioner Thomas Roszkowski had his “Make American Great Again” banner splattered with eggs and later torn down from his liquor store in Grantville. He said a Muslim-American teen had her head scarf yanked off on Maple Street in Longview last month. The council also heard from Harkensville Police Chief Denny Malloy. He said a physical education teacher at Harkensville Elementary School was suspended last Friday after he allegedly told some Latino students they were going to end up in foster care because their parents were going to be deported. He said many of hate crimes have occurred in the county’s schools. He said many cases go unreported because the victims are afraid. He said his the Sheriff’s Office, the City Police Department and the public school system are committed to investigating every reported case. The state attorney general has setup a 1-800-555-1212 hate crime hotline. Comments from the council members at the Tuesday meeting included: County Council member Antonio Delgada said, “Are people losing their minds?” County Council member lda Sweet said, “We need to speak out against this kind of bullying.” County Council member Arthur Price said, “Getting involved will only make things worse.” County Council member Martha Glick said, “We have to stand up for our constituents’ constitutional rights. When one person in our community is a victim, all of us are victims.” County Executive Marion Thomas said, “These are cowardly acts taking place after dark. Their victims are traumatized, angry and scared. They feel powerless and vulnerable.” The city council members called on residents and county agencies to take a stand against the hate crimes. Council member lda Sweet proposed that the County Council formally endorse the rally that the county’s Interfaith Coalition was planning to champion diversity and tolerance. Thomas said the civil rights leader Jesse Jackson had been invited to speak. It is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon at the town square in Harkensville. The board’s vote to endorse the rally was unanimous. Purchase the answer to view it
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