October 30, 2019 (Harrisburg, PA) -- Today, Pennsylvania Representatives Dan Frankel and Ed Gainey introduced several bills
in the Pennsylvania State House focused on reducing hate crimes in the commonwealth; their colleagues Senators Jay Costa and Larry Farnese are introducing companion bills in the State Senate.
Following the one year anniversary of the tragic, hate-fueled murders at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, these measures will modernize the commonwealth’s hate crime laws to better protect all Pennsylvanians. Specifically, these new bills would accomplish the following:
- HB2010: Gives schools and colleges the tools they need to respond to hate crimes and lets students safely and anonymously report hate crimes to campus officials so that they can stop harassment early.
- HB2011: Provides alternatives to lengthy jail time for hate crime offenders by allowing them to learn through education and exposure about the community they targeted to help end the cycle of ignorance and hate.
- HB2012: Gives police additional state-supported training to identify and react to hate crimes to better protect the people of Pennsylvania.
- HB2013: Ensures that all Pennsylvanians are protected against acts of hate and bias and that penalties for hate crimes reflect the severity of the offenses. By bringing old hate crime laws to modern standards, residents will have greater protections to freely practice their faith and live their lives openly and safely.
The Sikh Coalition has been working with the Pennsylvania General Assembly over the past four months to help guide these bills. Now, we need the Pennsylvania Sikh community to help support these important measures so that we can all be better protected against acts of hate:
- Sign our online petition in support of these bills, which will automatically send a letter to your elected officials.
- Speak to your gurdwara this weekend about the possibility of setting up a table to have your fellow sangat members sign the same petition.
- Attend an upcoming public committee hearing with members of your sangat to show that the Sikh community supports these bills. The Sikh Coalition will let you know if and when these hearings will be scheduled.
- Share your story of a hate incident you witnessed, experienced, or know of within Pennsylvania at ReportHate.org. These stories can help educate your legislators on the problems of hate that exist in their district; you can choose to remain anonymous, and it is never too late to share your story.
- Forward this email to your friends and family in the commonwealth, so they know how they can take action over the next few weeks. Please also share these efforts on social media, text, and WhatsApp.
According to the most recent FBI data, hate crimes within Pennsylvania increased by nearly 28 percent between 2017 and 2018. More than 1,500 individuals in the commonwealth were targeted because of their religious identity, and nearly 13 percent of incidents took place at schools or colleges. Law enforcement agencies are also falling drastically short: the same data shows that only 23 out of nearly 1,500 Pennsylvania law enforcement agencies reported hate crimes to federal authorities.
The Sikh Coalition will be in touch soon with more details on these actions as we work together to better protect Sikhs and all other vulnerable communities in Pennsylvania.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.