Call to action: Stand With Us Against Injustice

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As many are aware, Calvert County has recently been affected by a devastating hate crime. On August 9, 2020 the following Defendants perpetrated a crime which will last forever in the minds of many. Andrew Edge, Cade Meredith, Kyle Hill, Augustine Aufderheide and Anthony Sellers III made a conscious decision to trespass onto the property of Calvert High School with malicious intent to vandalise a football field, an outdoor classroom and other miscellaneous areas of the school. Defacing school property with vandalism is a criminal charge that should always be taken seriously; however, the heinous lawlessness and show of hatred that was displayed by the Defendants on August 9th is much more serious than destruction of property. The men took time to spray painted several different racial slurs onto the property, which makes their unspeakable actions to be considered a “hate crime”.

To clarify, in Maryland, a hate crime is defined as a crime motivated by prejudice on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, or other grounds. Undoubtedly, the actions of the named Defendants qualify as a hate crime in Maryland. There are no words to describe the damage these men have caused to not only the black community, but Calvert County in its entirety. As a community, we are supposed to trust that our local authorities will uphold a standard of justice; however, in this case, they have clearly failed to do so. With that being said, it is now up to us, the people, to hold our local officials accountable to seek justice.  

We demand that our State’s Attorney, Robert Harvey, review the case as well as the current applied charges and adjust the Defendant’s charges to represent the detrimental damage that the Defendant’s actions have left behind on the community. Currently, the above-named Defendants are charged with two counts of malicious destruction of property of less than $1,000, which is defined as a misdemeanor under Maryland Code. See Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 6-301. Due to the nature of the crime, it is exceedingly clear that the defendants have been grossly undercharged. The Defendant’s made the choice of  maliciously trespassing on public property with intent to deface the property with language exhibiting extreme animosity against the Black community. Although the harm that the Defendant’s have done to the community is irreparable, in return, all we are asking for is justice to ensure that the Defendants are faced with charges that are true in representation to the permanent damages created from their crime.  

Additionally, a case much similar to the Calvert High School crimes was recently litigated in Montgomery County. The Circuit Court of Howard County  County held four perpetrators responsible for hateful graffiti that they left sidewalks and buildings at Glenelg High School. The facts in the case of the events at Glenelg High are oddly and eerily similar in the case to the facts of crimes committed at Calvert High School. The Defendant’s in the Glenelg case defaced the school property with hateful language aimed at their Black school principal. Likewise, the reprehensible events at Calvert High School transpired the day after a picture of the new African American principal surfaced on the internet. While the cases of Glenelg High School and Calvert High School are oddly similar, there is a vast difference in the charges that were applied to the Defendant’s in the different cases. In the case of Glenelg the teenagers were indicted on seven charges, one of which included a hate crime. While six of the charges were dropped during litigation, the charge that the Defendant’s were found guilty of and sentenced for was the hate crime. All of the Defendant’s were sentenced to three years in jail, with various amounts of time suspended. Additionally, all four Defendants were sentenced to three years of supervised probation, 250 hours of community service, drug/alcohol screening, restitution damages and court costs. It’s worth noting that Matthew Lipp, one of the four Defendant’s in this case, appealed his case on the basis of a First Amendment challenge and the Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the lower court. See Lipp v. State, 246 Md. App. 105, 227 A.3d 818 (2020).

In conclusion, the named Defendant’s in the vandalism of Calvert High School should be charged with a hate crime. Undoubtedly, the facts of the case are well supported by Maryland case law and the State is likely to be successful in prosecuting the Defendants with a hate crime charge. The actions of the Defendants are inexcusable and should not be glazed over and swept under the rug by local authorities. Please use your voice and show your discern for these unutterable crimes by signing this petition and using this link to email our State’s Attorney and demand his assistance in our pursuit to justice.