From the office of State Senator Jay Costa
According to an annual report by the Anti-Defamation League, Pennsylvania led the nation in 2021 in acts of extremist and anti-Semitic incidents. There were 488 reported in the Commonwealth last year. These include white supremacist events, dissemination of white supremacist propaganda, and anti-Semitic incidents involving violence or property damage.
This is appalling, and something must be done.
For several years now, I have introduced a package of legislation that would provide law enforcement more tools to monitor, prevent and punish hate crimes. There are many shortcomings in our state law as it relates to hate crimes and ethnic intimidation and my bills would seek to protect folks that may become the victim of a crime simply because of their race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, age or disability of the victim.
The bills will:
- Require further training for police officers
- Empower individuals to file civil lawsuits in response to ethnic intimidation or violence
- Increase reporting requirements for hate crimes on college campuses
- Institute a database of hate groups. In 2019, there were 940 hate groups in this country. We need to know more about their activity before it is too late.
I truly believe these bills can prevent the next mass casualty event. I am hopeful that this session – given the increase in hate crimes – the bills will be moved in committee, the first step in passing a bill in the General Assembly. Keep posted at senatorcosta.com.