Two fliers promoting a white supremacist group were found recently at the Montgomery County Council building in Rockville—days before the council unanimously voted Tuesday to approve $225,000 in county funds to help local Jewish schools and community centers improve security
Council member Nancy Navarro said during a brief discussion about the funds that her staff found fliers from a group called Vanguard America that said “We have a right to exist.” The fliers also list the group’s website, which features a “manifesto” calling for new leaders “who hold the interest of White America first and foremost.” Only heterosexual whites of European descent are permitted to join the group, according to the website.
The fliers were found inside the County Council building’s parking garage and posted on a sign outside the building along Fleet Street, according to one of Navarro’s staff members. The building is at 100 Maryland Ave.
Navarro said Tuesday the county has seen an increase in hate incidents. County Police Chief Tom Manger said in February hate-related incidents spiked after the November election, but declined after the start of 2017.
“This is really a new state of being in the county that we have not been accustomed to,” Navarro said. She added that the funds for the Jewish schools and community centers will “send a message” that the county will support the safety of faith communities and promote tolerance.
County Executive Ike Leggett first proposed providing the grants to the Jewish community after the Bender Jewish Community Center and the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School—both in Rockville—received bomb threats earlier this year. The council was able to expedite the approval process for the funds because Jewish groups had requested county funds for the security upgrades in the past.
On Tuesday, the council also approved an amendment that authorizes Leggett to allocate an additional $225,000 for security enhancements that could be requested by other religious organizations at a later date.
Council President Roger Berliner said Muslim, Sikh or other religious groups that have experienced hate-related incidents could request the funds. “We can not let any portion of our community feel insecure as they practice their faith,” Berliner said.
Council member George Leventhal added that some residents may question why the county is using taxpayer funds to help religious organizations, but he noted that public safety is a county responsibility.
Image right: One of the fliers reportedly posted near the Montgomery County Council Office Building in Rockville. Provided by council member Nancy Navarro's office.