Several groups in Maryland are preparing to launch a new app aimed at alerting the community about potential hate crimes.
The NAACP used to hang a black flag from the window of its headquarters every time it learned of a lynching in the 1930s, and those were just the ones it knew about.
“Racism continues to rear its ugly head,” said Bishop Antonio Palmer of Kingdom Alliance of Churches.
The Emmett Till Alerts will use an app. It’s similar to the Amber Alert system that activates when a child is missing. It’s expected to launch by the end of the month.
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Incidents like the recent church vandalisms in Montgomery County or the racially motivated threats against HBCUs like Bowie State would trigger the alerts
“You don’t sign up for it,” said Carl Snowden of Caucus of African American Leaders. “We contact you to see if you’re interested to in being part of it, and that’s how you get on the list.”
Snowden says it’ll be made available to Black elected officials across Maryland, members of clergy and leaders of national civil rights organizations.
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Organizers say when reports of hate crimes are received from victims, witnesses or police reports, they will be vetted and sent out over the application.
There will be a rating system with lower-level alerts for things like vandalism or taunting and a highest level for violence that has occurred or is likely to occur.
“We have a long way to go,” Palmer said. “This also proves to us that we have to protect ourselves.”
The people behind the effort said it will allow a quick, proactive response to verified hate incidents; a way to ease tensions; and come up with the most effective response.
“When the FBI director says as he has said often that the greatest domestic terrorist threat is white supremacists, we should take that very, very seriously,” Snowden said.
Organizers said the system likely will expand to wider distribution in the future.