Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Saying No to Hate in Charles

Racial tensions have risen in Charles County as more and more prosperous black families settle there. Fortunately, it sounds as if the political establishment is not just saying that hate is bad for Charles but doing what they can to combat the recent wave of vandalism:

FBI agents are planning to join authorities in their search for the vandals at the request of Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, the House Democratic whip, whose district includes Southern Maryland.

Wayne Cooper (D), president of the county Board of Commissioners, asked Hoyer last week to help get the federal government involved. "This is too much, and it's happening too fast," Cooper said.

State legislators representing Charles have pledged to review Maryland's hate crime laws, and county leaders plan town hall forums to promote racial tolerance and encourage discussion.

Charles County Commissioners also understand that hate is bad for business:
Some leaders think the recent vandalism -- coupled with memories of the 2004 arson that destroyed or damaged 27 new houses in the Hunters Brooke subdivision, many of them bought by black families -- threatens to thwart the county's aggressive efforts to woo businesses and higher-paying jobs.

"It's a very urgent problem," Commissioner Candice Quinn Kelly (R-La Plata) said of the lingering notion of Charles as racist. "We're working hard to shed that image."

"Who would want to bring their company or business to a place where their employees may feel unrest?" Commissioner Edith J. Patterson (D-Pomfret) asked. "Who would want to move here if they're afraid they'll open their doors at night and be attacked either by graffiti or other means? . . .

"We need to send a resounding message that this is not Charles County, this is not who we are and this is not what we want to represent."

Amen to that.