The following press release published on May 28th:
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today denounced derogatory slurs with racial undertones on t-shirts worn at a rally in Howard County earlier this week attacking the county’s first African-American County Executive.
On the same day that George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, Minn., a white woman called 911 to report false accusations against a Black man in Central Park and a white supremacist group’s recruitment flyers were discovered in parts of Maryland, a group of white protestors in Howard County, Md., joined some local elected officials carrying ‘Blue Lives Matter’ signs and wearing t-shirts reminiscent of misogynistic tropes meant to emasculate and demean his character.
SEE: CAIR Condemns Racist KKK Flyers Distributed in Maryland, Calls on Elected Officials to Repudiate Divisive Ideology
Reopen Howard County rally in Ellicott City
The rally, organized by the group Reopen Howard County, was designed to urge County Executive Calvin Ball to “reopen local businesses and churches” temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The tone-deaf, racist tropes and personal attacks against County Executive Ball go beyond mere politics and are emblematic of a deplorable national trend of hateful rhetoric and violence targeting America’s black communities,” said CAIR’s Director in Maryland Zainab Chaudry. “In these challenging times, we can’t simply sit on the sidelines and claim to not be racist. We must actively be anti-racist. We must do the hard work to demonstrate how we individually are challenging and dismantling racism in our circles of influence.”
The Muslim Community Center of Maryland also issued a statement expressing its shock and disgust over this incident. In a statement, it said in part:
“Today we stand by Dr. Calvin Ball and the African American community. We pray for his safety and continued leadership. The MCC continues to categorically reject the ideologies and speech of those who spread hate, as well as the horrific acts of violence their words give license to. While these t-shirts with the racist and offensive slogan were created by the event organizers, we cannot overlook the elected officials who supported this slogan and by their conspicuous silence tacitly approved of the hateful message being delivered on the t-shirts that were clearly visible all around them.”
CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
Reopen Howard County posted the following on May 27th:
It has come to our attention that a third party individual came with T-shirts and gave a few out at our rally yesterday. We do not support the message on those shirts and had previously asked the person who brought them not to. We are aware that this person had free speech rights to hand out these T-Shirts as we cannot stop ones rights to free speech. After speaking with him this morning he was keenly aware that we were both upset, but also not in a position to trample his free speech. He also said he would be happy to speak out to upset individuals as to why he brought the shirts and he may put out a statement directly. He is not affiliated with our group other than his attendance at the rally.
We are a serious group focused on serious issues. Our focus remains to build on the mass success of our page and rally.
David Yungmann District 5 County Council posted the following on May 28th:
On Tuesday I joined a gathering of business owners, religious leaders and citizens advocating for their right to reopen. I believe our county is ready to reopen at the same measured pace as the Governor’s Roadmap to Recovery.
A few attendees at the event came to promote themselves and their own messages. The event organizers asked those individuals to leave and I personally told one to not display a campaign sign and another to not give out T-shirts targeting our County Executive. The situation was made worse when images of those unwelcome messages appeared on social media. While County Executive Ball and I expect the childish public disparagement our jobs invite, he absolutely did not deserve this and I am sorry I did not do even more at the event itself to prevent it.
I know the organizers of this group and many of the attendees, and I support their cause. The effort to get Howard County reopened is critically important and must not be diminished by the actions of a few. We have made progress recently yet could be falling further behind this week as both the Governor and neighboring Big 8 counties take additional reopening steps. I hope Howard County will be following suit and I remain ready and willing to help achieve that goal in any way that I am able.
Those are some of the various statements I have seen on this topic recently. There may be other statements that I have not seen yet (sorry…I do not always see everything posted on social media) and I expect we will continue to hear about this to some degree going forward.