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Maryland police arrest 3 in hate crimes against churches

‘Most of all, we never let go of hope,’ says pastor of vandalized Fowler UMC

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From left, Jarren Alexander, 22; Blake Krenzer and Brandon Krenzer, 19, (twins). (Booking photo of Alexander via ACPD; photo of Krenzer twins via social media)

Authorities in Maryland announced Thursday that three persons had been taken into custody and charged with crimes against multiple churches in Anne Arundel County including vandalism and destruction of property. According to Maryland law, any property damage of a religious entity is considered a hate crime.

Anne Arundel County Deputy Police Chief Katie Roberts told reporters at a press conference on Thursday announcing the arrests, “Let me be very clear: there is no place for hate in our county,” she said adding; “We will not tolerate hateful acts of any kind towards our places of worship or any individuals in this county.” 

Arrested in separate incidents Roberts said was twin brothers Blake Krenzer, 19, and Brandon Krenzer, 19, and Jarren Alexander, 22. Roberts noted that the department’s detectives and uniformed officers investigated as many as five incidences of vandalism at four churches in the County.

Alexander is alleged to have caused extensive damage to Fowler United Methodist Church (UMC), a historic Black church in Annapolis, on June 9. He also is being charged in connection with two additional incidents of vandalism at nearby St. Philip’s Episcopal Church that occurred after the hate crime at Fowler.

Blake Krenzer and Brandon Krenzer were charged in the vandalism/defacing of the Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ Pride signs at the Ark & Dove Presbyterian Church in Odenton in the early morning hours of June 14. That incident was captured on video surveillance footage which was released publicly.

Video surveillance footage courtesy of Anne Arundel County Police

In the video one of the Krenzers appears to be wearing a bandana with a confederate flag over his face. Another is wearing a shirt that says, “American Muscle,” with an American flag on it.

“Within 30 minutes of posting surveillance images on our social media, several community members came forward with tips that led to arrests in those cases,” Roberts told reporters. “These are amazing examples of community policing.”

Also speaking to reporters was the Pastor of Fowler UMC, Reverend Jerome Jones, who recounted the destruction of the more than 100 Bibles and hymnals that were destroyed, five televisions were smashed, and a large wooden cross was cracked on a pew.

“I have pastored since 2012, and I have never seen a church in such disarray and so much pain in a room,” said Jones. “Frederick Douglass once said, ‘If there is no struggle, there is no progress.’ But (we) have held on to our faith. Most of all, we never let go of hope.”

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Maryland

Moms for Liberty is winning its fight to remove books from one Md. school district

56 books are temporarily off Carroll County library shelves

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(Bigstock photo)

By Kristen Griffith | Carroll County Public Schools can’t keep up with a flood of requests to review 56 school library books by a group of parents who oppose their content, so the superintendent has temporarily taken them off the shelves.

Flooding the queue is the conservative parents-rights group Moms for Liberty, whose Carroll County chapter has joined its nationwide call for stricter school library book selection, targeting titles with sexual content, in particular.

The rest of this article can be found at the Baltimore Banner website.

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Maryland

Md. governor visits, praises Baltimore LGBTQ Safe Haven

Moore calls facility ‘invaluable resource’ for community

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Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Sept. 8 visited Baltimore Safe Haven. Moore is pictured here at the 2023 Baltimore Pride Parade. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and the state’s lieutenant governor, Aruna Miller, on Sept. 8 visited Baltimore Safe Haven, a transitional housing and support organization that provides a wide range of services for the LGBTQ community, with a special outreach to the transgender community.

A statement released by Moore’s office says the visit was made in partnership with the Maryland Commission on LGBTQIA+ Affairs and provided an opportunity for him and Miller to tour Safe Haven’s housing facilities and learn more about the services it offers.

“In Maryland, we lead with love and inclusion, and nobody should have to justify their own humanity,” Moore said in a statement. “Baltimore Safe Haven provides help and hope to the people who need it most,” he said. “The only way forward is together, and Baltimore Safe Haven has a partner in the State House.”

Moore added, “We have a lot of work to do, and we must tackle that work in partnership. If we do, we can build a kinder, safer Maryland for all.”

Miller said in the statement that she and the governor fully support Baltimore Safe Haven’s work and mission.

“Baltimore Safe Haven’s services are a critical link in the continuum of care for our LGBTQIA+ community, specifically for Black transgender Marylanders, and our administration is proud to be their partner,” she said.

Iya Dammons, the founder and executive director of Baltimore Safe Haven who on July 28 officially opened a D.C. Safe Haven facility at 331 H St., N.E., said the visit by Moore and Miller to the Baltimore facility has highlighted the organization’s work to provide support for people in need.

“Baltimore Safe Haven has been at the forefront of this fight, providing a lifeline to those who have been disproportionately affected by homelessness, discrimination, and violence,” she said in a statement. “During their walk-through, Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller and Governor Wes Moore witnessed firsthand the compassionate and empowering environment created by Baltimore Safe Haven.”

Added Dammons, “We hope that their visit will inspire others to join our mission to create a more inclusive and equitable Maryland.”

 Like the Baltimore Safe Haven operation, Dammons said the D.C. Safe Haven will provide a wide range of services, including housing for homeless LGBTQ youth, a computer lab, a drop-in center, a case manager, and a once-a-week clinic supported by the University of Maryland.

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Maryland

Md. man pleads guilty to making threats against HRC

Adam Nettina left voicemail after massacre at Nashville’s Covenant School

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Adam Michael Nettina (Photo courtesy of the Justice Department)

A Maryland man has pleaded guilty to making threats against the Human Rights Campaign.

The Justice Department in a press release notes Adam Michael Nettina, 34, of West Friendship, Md., pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of using interstate communications with a threat to injure.

The press release notes Nettina admitted to leaving a threatening voicemail on March 28, 2023, that referenced the massacre at the Covenant School in Nashville, which took place the day before.

“The message referenced a mass shooting that had happened the day before at a school in Nashville, Tennessee, involving multiple shooting fatalities, where the perpetrator was a transgender woman,” notes the press release. “During the call to the advocacy organization on March 28, Nettina made multiple threats, including, ‘…We’ll cut your throats. We’ll put a bullet in your head … You’re going to kill us? We’re going to kill you 10 times more in full.'”

The Justice Department said Nettina “admitted to leaving the threatening voicemail and to targeting his victims because of their actual and perceived gender, gender identity and sexual orientation” and acknowledged he sent threatening messages to two lawmakers in Virginia and Maryland who publicly support trans people.”

Nettina faces up to five years in prison.

“The defendant in this case attempted to terrorize the LGBTQI+ community by calling in multiple threats of violence to a local advocacy group,” said Luis Quesada, assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Criminal Investigative Division. “The FBI will not tolerate these acts of hate, and we remain committed to investigating civil rights violations and keeping our communities safe and free from fear.”

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