The Anne Arundel County Council heard more than an hour of moving testimony Monday night as residents packed council chambers to ask members to take meaningful steps to fight racism in the county.
As reported by The Capital Gazette,
Council members unanimously passed Resolution 22-17, which denounces hatred and racism in the wake of recent events — including the killing of Lt. Richard Collins III, a black Bowie State University student who was stabbed to death on the University of Maryland, College Park campus, allegedly by a white man from Severna Park.
The resolution responded to the killing, as well as other recent events in the state and county that have “shown that hateful messages and speech serve as a call to action for certain individuals and groups to perform bold acts meant to induce fear and commit acts of violence.”
In addition to condemning messages and acts of racism, the resolution encouraged the implementation of programming and educational initiatives in cooperation with the county administration’s “effort to improve inclusion, understanding and diversity within county government and to aid in ending racism and discrimination in our communities.”
Councilman Pete Smith, a Severn Democrat who initially proposed the resolution, choked up as he explained why he believes it is important for the council to take a stand against racism.
Smith, the council’s only African-American member, told of the racism he faced as a 13-year-old playing in the school yard, when he was approached by two white boys who began to push him and call him racial slurs.
“It blew me away because I did not know why,” he recalled. “I didn’t antagonize these individuals, I didn’t say anything to them — they just came up to me and started using this barrage of words.”
“Twenty-five years ago to this day, I still remember how I felt when these two individuals started minimizing and demeaning me because of the color of my skin. I felt freaking small.”
About 60 people gathered across the street from the County Council’s chambers before the meeting Monday night for a demonstration led by the Caucus of African American Leaders.
Council members amended the resolution to include language condemning white supremacy in response to testimony from some residents who said the resolution did not go far enough.
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