At ADL confab, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore emphasizes ‘responsibility’ to constituent safety

The new Maryland governor discussed his administration’s early efforts to combat hate crimes and antisemitism

Gov. Wes Moore

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (left) and Director of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt at the Anti-Defamation League’s National Leadership summit in Washington, D.C., May 2, 2023

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore emphasized yesterday that he sees his top responsibility in his new role — to which he was elected last November — as protecting his constituents’ safety, including pushing back against antisemitism.

“I knew coming in that the number one responsibility… is making sure that everybody in your state can feel safe in their own homes, in their own communities and safe in their own skins,” Moore, a Democrat, said in remarks at the Anti-Defamation League’s National Leadership summit in Washington, D.C. “Every Marylander should know that this is a state that is going to protect them.”

Moore said that, as part of this commitment, he felt an imperative to respond quickly to ADL data published earlier this year showing that antisemitism continues to spike, including in Maryland. Moore said he was “horrified” to see the volume of incidents in his state, and that he wanted to make clear early in his governorship “that we are going to be very vocal and very available partners.”

The Maryland governor said that his administration aims to send the message that Maryland is a “loving state, where everyone is being heard, and where everyone is protected. But also we’re very clear to those who violate the civil rights and the independence of individuals there, that your actions will not be tolerated in our state.”

Moore touted that his administration had pushed for an additional $5 million for hate crime prevention programs and an additional $122 million for local law enforcement — which he said would help protect houses of worship. It also set up a commission to evaluate how the state addresses hate crimes, signed legislation marking Holocaust Remembrance Day as an official state holiday in perpetuity and supported other legislation aimed at combating hate crimes.

He highlighted the need to understand history to combat hate in the modern day.

“We have to zero in on increasing education, increasing exposure and being very forthright about what type of state we are, and how we are going to be a state that actually honors history and not ignores it,” Moore said. “We are going to be a state that actually lifts up our history and our foundations and understands that, when we say things like ‘never again,’ people have to understand what… we mean by that.”

Moore also indicated that he supports efforts to crack down on hate speech, arguing that those who allow hateful ideologies to grow and recruit are “making people, making individuals, making children less safe.”

“I understand when people are talking about the importance of free speech. I completely understand the argument. But when your free speech makes me and everyone else less safe, that’s no longer free speech, that’s very expensive and it’s very deadly,” he said. “We do need to have a greater level of responsibility over the tools that we are unleashing on our society with a clearer understanding of their consequences. We do need to have consequences when people misuse those tools.”

“As the state… we’re not simply going to hide behind the ideal ‘everyone can say anything they want because it’s just a reinforcement of a First Amendment right,’” he continued. “Not if what you’re doing is literally making people less safe every day. There is a responsibility that we have to lean into this.”

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, delivered prerecorded video remarks, emphasizing that “every Pennsylvanian has the right to be safe and feel safe, no matter their faith” and that his state is “committed to combating antisemitism and hate with every tool we have.”

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