YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — Some state lawmakers say they’ve been getting ready to fight back against hate crimes ever since bomb threats came in last year to Jewish community centers across the country, including in Harrisburg and York.
“It really shook our community. It was the first time it had ever happened here in York,” said state Rep. Kristen Phillips-Hill (R-York County).
The Anti-Defamation League says incidents of assault, harassment, and vandalism against Jewish people have risen by 43 percent in Pennsylvania over the last five years. The organization noted that many of the incidents occurred on school grounds.
That’s one of the reasons why Phillips-Hill has proposed a bill that would teach tolerance in schools.
“We can put important components into the classroom so that students understand that we’re all one community and we all need to take care of one another,” said Phillips-Hill.
She says it’s important for schools to teach kids about various religions and cultures.
State Rep. Mike Schlossberg (D-Lehigh County) agrees.
“We have to make sure that their curriculum is updated for, unfortunately, the new climate that we live in,” said Schlossberg.
He’s also proposing a bill to combat all hate crimes. He says his goal is to create a system that would notify lawmakers when hate crimes occur in the commonwealth.
“Anti-Semitic crimes are on the rise, but the truth is hate crimes, vandalism, and acts of violence against all sorts of minority groups are increasing,” said Schlossberg.
Schlossberg says it’s important for state leaders to keep tabs on hate crimes so that they can create legislation that protects people.