HARRISBURG (KDKA) — Democratic state Rep. Dan Frankel knows what hate can do. His family was victims of it in Nazi Germany.
“My mother-in-law was a survivor at Auschwitz. I have other family who escaped Germany and the Nazis,” Rep. Frankel said.READ MORE: As People Struggle To Secure Unemployment Benefits, Prosecutors Say Fraud Is Widespread
In his district, he saw 11 neighbors gunned down at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill.
“Things like Tree of Life don’t happen in a vacuum,” Rep. Frankel said.
He said these tragedies and atrocities are a result of small hate crimes building up over time.
He said the recent assault on the United States Capitol was another reflection of what happens when actions go unchecked.
“I think we need to do something about it, and this is one way we can do it at state government,” he said over Zoom.
So he is reintroducing a package of bills of four bills to address hate crimes. They got sidelined as the state responded to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.READ MORE: Kennywood's Jack Rabbit Roller Coaster Gets Squeaky Clean During Offseason
It includes an expansion of the ethnic intimidation statute to step up civil and criminal penalties on offenders.
Another bill would help train law enforcement on on identifying, investigating and reporting hate crimes.
“One of the things that we know is law enforcement doesn’t really know in many cases how to identify a hate crime,” Rep. Frankel said.
According to Frankel, hate groups target college students for crimes or to join their ranks. His legislation would call for colleges to have online and anonymous reporting options.
The last bill in the package would call for rehabilitation of hate crime offenders.
“We want to make sure they get specific education with respect to the group or groups they had been targeting,” Rep. Frankel said.MORE NEWS: Crash Closes Parts Of Route 22 And Route 119 In Westmoreland County
Frankel believes he should have bipartisan support for the legislation. He is currently searching for co-signers on the bill.