Senator Ferlo seeks to protect residents

State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Pittsburgh) today urged his fellow legislators to reenact provisions of the Ethnic Intimidation section of the Pennsylvania Crimes and Offenses Statute as the body’s first order of business in the new legislative section.

In a letter addressed to the legislative leadership of both the Senate and House of Representatives Senator Ferlo stated:

“As you well know, the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold this Commonwealth Court decision, which found the procedures used to enact Act 143 or 2002 unconstitutional, has left a huge hole in the Ethnic Intimidation section (commonly referred to as the Hate Crimes Law) of Title 18. While I believe that this decision is unfortunate, I have at this time no other choice than to seek a remedy through legislative action. Therefore, I am requesting the Legislature prioritize re-enacting Act 143 of 2002 as its first order of business.”

Senator Ferlo will be re-introducing Senate Bill 1554 of 2007 in hopes that quick action can be taken to remedy the decision of the court.

Senator Ferlo pointed out the importance of this action by adding, “Hate crimes are often the acts of anonymous attackers on people of actual or perceived social groups. They can often be far more violent than typical crimes and attempt to dehumanize the victims. By grading these offenses more strictly I hope that we can further discourage crimes based on hate as we continue to grow into a more open and accepting society.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented over 70 hate crimes organizations in Pennsylvania alone.

Senator Ferlo noted that this would merely reenact Act 143 of 2002 which the courts struck down for procedural reasons.