Sometimes racism is subtle. That was not the case with the inflammatory and offensive tweet dehumanizing black children posted by the Fraternal Order of Police last weekend.

That message, and other recent comments expressed by public leaders, represent a disturbing return to overt racism. The coded language public servants and elected officials use and the racist themes they invoke set the tone for what is acceptable. We call on all public officials to pledge that they will not use and will not tolerate the use of disparaging and dehumanizing language about people of color, especially black children.

Such a pledge shouldn’t be necessary in 2019, but it is. Here is a sampling of things public officials have said in Maryland recently about black community members:

  • Baltimore’s Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Mancuso said of black children in a tweet, “don’t fall into the trap that they are only kids. Some are criminals!”
  • Baltimore County Delegate Robin L. Grammer Jr., said of former black school officials, “Hang them high and leave it for the village to see.”
  • Harford County Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti called the district represented by many black colleagues in Prince George’s County the “[n-word] district.”