HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A group of Pennsylvania lawmakers is pushing for legislation meant to fight hate crimes. This comes in the wake of the deadly mass shooting in Atlanta where 8 people were killed, 6 of them women.
The deadly shooting may have happened in Georgia, but the group ‘Stop AAPI Hate’ says Pennsylvania had the 5th-most hate crimes against Asian Americans among every state in the country this year. It’s hate like that that state lawmakers hope to confront and prevent.
Representative Patty Kim (D-Dauphin) is the only Asian-American member in the Pennsylvania House.
On Wednesday, she called fellow lawmakers to stand with her in support of the Asian-American community in the aftermath of the deadly Atlanta shootings.
“We’re tired of being silent, we’re tired of being invisible. It’s time to speak up and get our message heard,” Kim said. “We don’t want to wait for it to happen in Pennsylvania. The community is asking for help, saying we’re here we need resources, we need your support.”
It’s not just about words, they want concrete action in the form of legislation.
Representative Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny), who was at Wednesday’s press conference, first introduced anti-hate-crime legislation after a shooter killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in his district.
“We’re all retraumatized every time one of these things takes place. It’s unfortunately all too common,” Frankel said.
Now they’re hoping to pass five different bills to:
- expand the hate crime statute to protect the LGBTQ community and those with disabilities
- impose harsher penalties for hate crimes
- give police better training to identify hate crimes
- create school programs to identify hate groups on campus and let students anonymously report hate crimes
- make those who commit hate crimes do diversity training or community service related to the targeted group
“Other than throwing up our hands and saying there’s nothing we can do, there are things we can do. We have the ability as lawmakers to do something about it,” Frankel said.
They hope now is the time for change.
“I know eyes are going to roll, like oh my gosh another minority group complaining and whining,” Kim said. “When you are a person of color and you experience this it’s scary, it’s a scary time right now and no one wants to be the victim or the target. And it’s been happening for a while now for Asian Americans.”