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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: August 28, 2017 04:26 PM
From: Representative Michael H. Schlossberg and Rep. Thomas P. Murt
To: All House members
Subject: Revised: RESOLUTION Condemning hate crime and any other form of racism, religious or ethnic bias, discrimination, incitement to violence, or animus targeting a minority in the United States
In the near future we will introduce a resolution condemning hate crime and any other forms of racism, religious or ethnic bias, discrimination, incitement to violence, or animus targeting a minority in the United States. This resolution also encourages the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to develop effective strategies and efforts to detect and deter hate crimes.

Unfortunately, it's easy to anticipate you already asking a tragically necessary question: didn’t we do this already? The answer is yes…and no. On one hand, the legislature has aggressively denounced hate crimes after they have happened. This is both good and necessary. We have always, appropriately, acted to condemn a crime in its aftermath. What this resolution seeks to do, preemptively, is reject all hate crimes before one occurs. Our words and our votes on issues like this matter, now more than ever, and that is what we would like to seek to accomplish with this resolution.

There is increased awareness of this topic and for appropriate reason. In 2015, hate crimes targeting Muslims increased by 67%. The Anti-Defamation League also reports a 67% increase in 2016 of anti-Semitic behavior targeting Jews and Jewish institution in Pennsylvania. Further, the FBI reports startling numbers of crimes against victims who were targeted due to racial, ethnic or ancestry bias. All this is happening while white supremacist activity has increased across college campuses across the United States. Clearly there is reason for concern. As leaders in our respective communities, it is incumbent upon all of us to lead with clear moral conviction and speak boldly on this matter.

At the core of the American republic is a deep-seeded respect for pluralism in matters of faith, race, ethnicity and ancestry. It is in that respect for pluralism where we derive our commitment to freedom, for when the freedom of one is under attack, the freedom of all is compromised. As Pennsylvanians, we also take a measured level of pride in our heritage of freedom and equality, having stood as a beacon and refuge for all religions seeking freedom from persecution.

While there is no shortage to the causes and issues which divide us, so much more unites us. We hope you will consider adding your name to this resolution. The responsibility to clearly and forcefully articulate our commitment to freedom and equality in these matters is a moral obligation.

Introduced as HR495