HARRISBURG, Pa. — Wednesday, Pennsylvania state lawmakers took a stance against hate.
They gathered at the Capitol Complex in Harrisburg to stand in solidarity with the Asian-American Pacific Islander community and other vulnerable groups.
Their show of support comes after the Georgia shootings which killed 8 people, including 6 women of Asian descent.
“The shootings that took place in Georgia last week highlight the racism and domestic terrorism that is on the rise in America,” said Rep. Patty Kim (D-Dauphin County). “All of our lives have value, no matter our profession, our race, our gender. We need to speak up and demand action. We cannot allow more of these hate crimes and shootings to continue without doing what we can to help protect these communities.”
Rep. Kim shared what it's like being an Asian American woman with FOX43.
"I will use sunglasses to cover up my eyes to feel safer, especially in areas without a lot of diversity. I feel vulnerable," explained Rep. Kim. "I can confidently say every Asian American, everyone single one, have been made fun of and the target of jokes."
Rep. Kim and other PA lawmakers are calling for change.
"We see every day what our constituents have to face. It was a year ago we had to denounce people calling the pandemic the China virus," said Rep. Mary Isaacson (D-Philadelphia).
"We all belong here," said Senator Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia & Montgomery Counties).
"This has got to end," said Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny County).
During a news conference at the Capitol Complex, Rep. Frankel named the shootings which he says have traumatized vulnerable communities.
"We've seen it in Orlando with the Pulse Nightclub for the LGBTQ community," said Rep. Frankel.
He listed the Atlanta-area shootings which left 8 dead, including 6 Asian American women, and the 2018 synagogue shooting in his community, Squirrel Hill.
"My entire community was traumatized that day and the trauma continues today," explained Rep. Frankel.
- Schools would be required to expand the Safe2Say Something program to include hate crimes and colleges would have to add anonymous online tools for students to report hate crimes.
- Judges would have the ability to impose stiffer penalties on people convicted of hate crimes.
- Offenders of ethnic intimidation would be required to complete diversity classes or community service related to the victim's ethnicity.
- Police would receive more training to better identify hate crimes.
"We're not brought up to whine about it. We just push on, keep it to ourselves, keep moving, but when I see 6,7,8 people killed because of their race, I have to speak up," said Rep. Kim.
Right now, the bills are being circulated amongst lawmakers. Backers say they hope to receive some Republican support.