ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford is coming under fire for his comments about the recent increase in hate speech in Maryland.

According to our media partner, The Baltimore Sun, the lieutenant governor told a Jewish community group that he was perplexed by the reason behind the increase.

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That prompted a tweet from Senator Cheryl Kagan of Montgomery County, saying she was shocked by Rutherford’s lack of awareness.

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The lieutenant governor responded in a tweet, saying he would rather people show their real colors than hide.

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A spokesman for Rutherford issued the following statement to WJZ:

As a black man who grew up during the Civil Rights movement and someone who has stared real racism and discrimination in the face, the lieutenant governor was simply referencing the indisputable fact that racism and race-related tensions have been issues facing our nation for hundreds of years, and he believes all Marylanders and Americans benefit when these issues can be discussed frankly in the public arena.

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Governor Hogan and Lt. Governor Rutherford condemn racism and acts of hatred from all sides. Citizens have the right to protest peacefully, but all Marylanders must treat each other with respect, and acts of violence or damage to public or private property will not be tolerated.