A construction sign board in Brookeville was hacked and displayed a message that was racist toward African Americans, said Shiera Goff, public information officer for the Montgomery County Police Department.
The hacking is a strikingly visible demonstration of anti-Black racism in the county, which has seen bias incidents increase steadily in recent years, according to police data.
Police said they received calls around 6:47 a.m. Saturday that a sign board near Brookeville Road and Georgia Ave, a couple of miles north of Olney, was displaying a racist message.
Officers then found that the sign board, which is used for construction safety notices, had been hacked into, and they were able to erase the message and arrange for the sign to be taken down, according to police.
In response to questions from MoCo360, Goff said that she was not able to release the content of the message or say how long the message stayed live on the sign.
Police ask anyone with information about this incident to call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). There is a reward of up to $10,000 for anyone who provides information leading to an arrest; callers can remain anonymous.
This incident occurred a few weeks after pride and Ukrainian flags were burned and vandalized in downtown Silver Spring on June 21. The previous day, June 20, the County Council voted to establish an Anti-Hate Task Force.
Montgomery County Public Schools unveiled a three-year action plan to combat systemic racism on May 11 after an increase of hate incidents in public schools.
The number of bias incidents in the county has grown steadily from 93 in 2018 to 157 in 2022, according to the county police department.
“This is the highest number of bias-related incidents reported to the MCPD since our internal reporting processes changed in 2015,” Chief Marcus Jones wrote in the 2022 Annual Report on Bias Incidents.
Of all the incidents last year, nearly half (77) were racially motivated, the report shows. Among those, “74% (57) were considered anti-black, and 12% (9) were anti-Asian,” Jones wrote.
Additionally, antisemitic incidents in MCPS and around the county have increased over the last year, including hateful graffiti, flyers and drawings of swastikas on desks.