Chinese American Parent Association of Howard County (CAPA-HC) board submitted the following letter to the county council members, County Executive, and county’s Racial Equity Task Force to request Mr. Michael Harris’ removal from the RETF and Councilmember Jones’ office. We also demand Howard County public offices, elected officials, and members of RETF to publicly condemn such bigotry, hatred, and racist speech against Asian American minority groups and all immigrants.

Here is the text of that letter:

Dear respected County Councilmembers, Dr. Ball and RETF members,

During the Howard County Racial EquityTask Force (RETF) public hearing on Thursday March 4, 2021 a speaker shockingly spilled out his hatred against Chinese and Korean Americans, and all immigrants who live in Howard County. Even more shockingly, one of the task force members, Michael Harris, who is also Councilmember Or. Opel Jones’ special assistant, gave the hate speech a thumbs-up.

We strongly condemn Mr. Harris’ act of encouraging and celebrating racism against Asian Americans and immigrants, an integral part of the Howard community. His action not only exposed himself as a figure of division and hate but also undermined the institutions he represents. As such, Mr. Harris is not fit to serve in any public function.

With the recent vandalism and burglary of four Asian American owned businesses on the Lunar New Year Day in Howard County and a series of recent attacks on Asian Americans across the country, we do not believe this is an isolated incident. The hate speech Thursday night reflects the spreading racism and hatred against Asian Americans, and* if not stopped» would bring
wider or deeper harms to our community. This also illustrates racism does not simply come from those in power, it could come from every corner of the society; and be just as poisonous
and dangerous. As Dr. Martin Luther King said* “like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity.” We call on a reform of the RETF to stop hate in its tracks and restore the public trust* which is ultra-critical to its success.

We respectfully request Mr. Harris’ removal from the RETF and Councilmember Jones’ office. We also demand Howard County public offices elected officials, and members of RETF to publicly condemn such bigotry, hatred, and racist speech against Asian American minority groups and all immigrants. The RETF and our County officials is obligated to take a stand between unity and division, cooperation and hate, and justice and discrimination.

Thank you for your attention and time!


Hopefully my OCR program did no make any mistakes in the text above. Here is the image shared on social media:


Here is the video clip from the RETF meeting on March 4th that has been shared on social media: (CLICK HERE TO VIEW)

You can watch the full video from the meeting here:  https://howardcounty.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=4554


Howard County Councilman Open Jones posted the following comment on Facebook:

It has come to my attention that there are social media posts inferring that my Special Assistant, Michael Harris, was in agreeance with inflammatory and derogatory statements made during last Thursday’s racial equity task force public hearing. This inference is false, and I would never be in agreeance with, nor would any staffer of mine be in agreeance with such repulsive comments.
These social media posts equated my staffer’s timekeeping process, which acknowledged a participant’s time is up and included a thumbs-up or a “thank you for sharing”, as agreement with what was said. His thumbs-up was also used to signify if a speaker could be heard. If you refer to the video in full, not just one instance, you will see this happens several times for multiple speakers (timestamps 33:49, 40:51, 44:41, 47:54, 55:03, 1:08:01).
In no way, would Mr. Harris ever agree with or support this type of dialogue. It is counter to his personal beliefs and our team’s philosophy to advocate for and celebrate the rich diversity within District 2, and Howard County as a whole. We are committed to uplifting all ethnicities within our district and ensuring that their voices are reflected in our district’s progress. We are proud of our partnership with advocacy groups, including the work from past interns in cooperation with the League of Korean Americans (LOKA). I have reached out to both LOKA and the Chinese American Parent Association of Howard County (CAPA-HC) for further discussion.
We will continue our efforts to champion diversity and inclusion across the district and Howard County. That’s what makes our district and county so amazing!


Those are the public comments I have seen on this topic from elected officials and organizations as of this post.

Scott E

6 COMMENTS

  1. So Harris would give a thumbs up (per Councilman Open Jones), even if a speaker made derogatory comments about African Americans, because he (Harris) was just keeping time? A ridiculous explanation from Mr. Jones. Racism is not just a “white privilege”.
    We need a sincere apology from Mr. Jones and termination of Mr. Harris. Anything else would mean that Mr. Jones has lost our support to continue to be on the Council.

  2. Mr. Harris should have condemned the racist comments and not given a thumbs up that could be understood as supporting the caller’s comments. I suspect he may have given thumbs up to cutting off that caller and moving on. In any case, Mr. Harris should be given an opportunity to explain and correct any mistakes or misunderstandings rather than being summarily dismissed.

    • Judy, While I agree with you, my concern is that instead of having Mr Harris explain his actions, Councilman Jones took it upon himself to provide an explanation that dose not pass the sniff test. It smells like a cover up.

  3. If you watched the whole hearing, you would see and know Mr. Harris thumbs up was in context to his role of the meeting and not an opinion of the speaker. It’s a shame he’s being placed in this spot because that action was taken out of context of the meeting. Shame on that organization for not realizing his actions were not in response to the testifier. They should watch the whole hearing and not just the tidbit of context that was shared with them. The person they should be upset with is the testifier, not those that are listening to the testimony. When does the cancel culture end without knowledge of the whole scenario.

    • Nicole, your comment is missing the point. If someone is making xenophobic remarks in a meeting, it would be the moral and civic duty of any and all officials and participants to immediately ask that such comments be stricken from the record and participants informed that such hate speech is not acceptable in a civil discourse. Failure to do so is a tacit agreement with such speech. This is not ‘cancel culture’ but an expectation that our elected representatives take a firm stand against all racist speech. The ‘shame’ you speak of is not on an organization speaking to defend itself but on officials who ignore blatant racism.

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