‘It won’t make us afraid’ | Jewish lawmaker’s Maryland apartment building is vandalized with antisemitic graffiti

Maryland State Delegate Joe Vogel says swastikas were drawn in the bathroom of his apartment building.

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Maryland Delegate Joe Vogel says his Montgomery County apartment building has been vandalized with antisemitic graffiti for the third time in just a matter of months. 

The Jewish lawmaker shared photos on the social media platform X, of four swastikas on the door of his apartment building’s lobby bathroom. 

“To see it in my own apartment building, in my own community, the place that I call home, it’s really unsettling,” Vogel told WUSA9 in his Gaithersburg home.

It is unclear if Vogel, who represents Maryland’s 17th District, is the target of the messages. 

“That kind of hate. Those kinds of messages, that vandalism sends a really dark message to me and others in our community, but it won’t make us afraid,” he added.

The recent incident comes at a time when places of worship in Montgomery County and across the country have increased security due to potential threats stemming from the war between Israel and Hamas. 

“I went to high holiday services and there is police officers stationed outside. I am glad they are keeping us safe, but I dream of a Maryland where we don’t have to have the police officers there because we are safe,” Vogel said. 

Vogel says antisemitism is a problem in Maryland. The most recent report published by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) indicates that 109 antisemitic cases were reported in the state in 2022. That’s a 98% increase compared to the 55 reported in 2021. More than half of those incidents were in Montgomery County. 

The anti-hate group’s tracker shows this year so far 68 incidents have been reported in Maryland. The ADL says they have noticed a spike since the Hamas attack in Israel. 

“The surge that we are seeing is real and we have to look at that for what it is and we have to take action,” Vogel said. 

Vogel has taken action against hate in Maryland. He was the lead sponsor behind the legislation that this year established the Commission on Hate Crime Response and Prevention, a task force under the State Attorney’s Office.

The bill signed into law by Gov. Wes More requires that the commission composed of nearly two dozen members including state agencies, nonprofit organizations, and community leaders “develop strategies to prevent and respond to hate crime activity and evaluate state laws and policies relating to hate crimes.”

In May, Vogel announced he is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Maryland’s 6th congressional district to succeed David Trone, who is running for the Senate seat left by retiring Democratic Senator Ben Cardin.

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