Jewish Teens Faced Robbery and Anti-Semitic Slurs at Baltimore Mall
July 22, 2020
A group of four teens in the Baltimore, Maryland area might appear as if they were simply victims of a robbery. However, police have reason to believe that the teens may have been victims of a hate crime as well.
The JTA reported that four Jewish teens were robbed outside of a Baltimore mall on the night of July 9th. The teens were walking around the perimeter of the Towson Town Center when they were confronted. Before taking the shopping bags, wallet and a cellphone of one of the boys, the perpetrator allegedly called them “dirty Jews”. The suspect also stole a yarmulke. When asked by investigators if they felt targeted for their religious observance, each of the four teens said “yes.”
Seneca Rice, a 34-year old man, was arrested on unrelated charges shortly after the incident. Surveillance camera footage, which captured the whole encounter, helped investigators pinpoint the suspect’s identity. He will be charged with robbery, second-degree assault and theft. 11 News, the local NBC-affiliate, reports that Baltimore County police have not ruled out hate crime charges.
Sgt. Vickie Warehime told 11 News, “It was an anti-Semitic statement that was made from the suspect to the four juveniles. It is being investigated as a bias incident, which is our protocol for the county.” Sgt. Warehime went on to note that any hate crime prosecution would take place later in the investigation.
Howard Libit, the executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, was also deeply troubled. He spoke of the rise in anti-Semitism, citing figures from the Anti-Defamation League that demonstrate record levels of hate.
Libit then urged law enforcement to take a strong stand from the start, stating, “Taking it seriously from the very beginning sends a really strong message that the county police take it seriously.” Libit hopes that this latest incident can serve as an opportunity to learn about the need for all religious communities to work together.
Until the investigation is completed, Mr. Rice is being held without bail. It remains to be seen whether he will face hate crime charges in addition to the other violent offenses.