Community Issues

PA Lawmakers Battle Hate Crimes With New Laws

Bills to be Introduced after increase in hate crimes, including anti-Semitic attacks

Members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate stood together today outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh to announce plans for legislation that will address hate crimes in the state.

"Hate crimes are on the rise, and as leaders, we have the opportunity to modernize our legal system to address that fact," said Representative Dan Frankel, who represents Squirrel Hill where an anti-Semitic gunman killed 11 people in the synagogue last October. Senator Jay Costa and Representative Ed Gainey joined Frankel in the announcement.

The bills will be introduced in both the House and Senate and have already garnered bipartisan support.

They will:

  • Provide the PA Attorney General with concurrent jurisdiction in crimes involving ethnic intimidation
  • Require hate crimes offenders to complete diversity classes
  • Allow community impact statements in hate crimes sentencing
  • Mandate training on investigating, identifying and reporting crimes of ethnic intimidation
  • Create a private right of action for civil rights violations
  • Institute a reporting system for universities and colleges
  • Begin a hate groups database

Rabbi Jeffrey Meyers thanked the lawmakers for their efforts, but lamented the need for new laws. "It's a sad moment that we have to create laws because people can't work and live and play together. "I hope for the day when we don't need these types of laws."

(Video & Images: Senator Jay Costa Jr. Facebook page )

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