Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Two Bills Could Change What Pennsylvania Classifies As A Hate Crime

Kathleen J. Davis
90.5 WESA
Rep. Dan Frankel at a press conference on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, surrounded by a number of Pittsburgh's religious and community leaders.

In the wake of Charlottesville, a Pennsylvania lawmaker wants to extend what qualifies as a hate crime in the commonwealth.

Senate Bill 96 and House Bill 505 would extend existing hate crime protections to victims facing intimidation based on actual or perceived ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. 

Pennsylvania's current hate crime law protects individuals based only on their race, religion and country of origin. Representative Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny County) said these bills should be a priority after Charlottesville, noting "no group was left untouched" by the vitriol of the "Unite the Right" demonstration.

"We saw a comprehensive expression of hate, so we want a comprehensive reaction to it," Frankel said. " One of the ways to do that is to finally address hate crimes in Pennsylvania in a comprehensive way."

Both bills have been sitting in committee since February, and they've seen no movement since. Frankel urged legislative leaders in Harrisburg to bring the bills to the floor so state leaders can stand by their most marginalized constituents.

"We need to express our concern and outrage in a way that's constructive and makes something happen in our community and state that shows we're tolerant, we're accepting and we will reject acts of hate that we saw in Charlottesville," he said.

Both bills are backed by a bipartisan team of lawmakers.

Kathleen J. Davis covers news about just about anything at WESA. She’s also the primary reporter and producer of WESA’s weekly series Pittsburgh Tech Report. Kathleen originally hails from the great state of Michigan, and is always available to talk about suburban Detroit and Coney Island diners. She lives in Bloomfield.
To make informed decisions, the public must receive unbiased truth.

As Southwestern Pennsylvania’s only independent public radio news and information station, we give voice to provocative ideas that foster a vibrant, informed, diverse and caring community.

WESA is primarily funded by listener contributions. Your financial support comes with no strings attached. It is free from commercial or political influence…that’s what makes WESA a free vital community resource. Your support funds important local journalism by WESA and NPR national reporters.

You give what you can, and you get news you can trust.
Please give now to continue providing fact-based journalism — a monthly gift of just $5 or $10 makes a big difference.