Police responded to a reported hate crime that involved the vandalism of an LGBTQ information board on March 25 in the Fine Arts building.
A prankster performed the vandalism by replacing many of the letters in LGBTQ+ with just the letter “B.” The letters were drawn with a square surrounding them over the title of the display, similar to the “B” emoji. The “B” emoji is a popular meme, and as such, the vandal may not have had malicious intent behind the meaning of his crime.
Deputy Chief of Police Paul Dillon said that the incident was “originally written up as a destruction of property and hate crime, but after review, it will be classified only as a destruction of property. For it to be a hate crime, we would need to reasonably believe the motivation of the crime was a bias against members of the LGBTQ+ community. I do not feel writing the letter ‘B’ over the letters ‘G, B, T’ demonstrates a bias.”
According to the UMBC Police Department’s Clery Report, a hate crime is defined as “a criminal offense that manifests evidence that the victim was intentionally selected because of the perpetrator’s bias against the victim.” Hate crimes towards a person’s sexual orientation are also defined in the report as “a preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation.”
The incident marks the first time a hate crime was reported on campus this year, though further investigation by police led to the conclusion that this act did not constitute a hate crime. The last time a hate crime was reported on campus was on Dec. 15, 2017, which involved a small swastika drawn in a stall in the women’s bathroom of the Fine Arts building. This indicates a major decline in hate crimes from last year, when a total of seven hate crimes occurred between October and December alone. Whether this trend will continue will remain to be seen as the year progresses.