Lower Gwynedd, Pa. − November 23, 2021 − In response to last week’s attack on four Asian American high school students on the Broad Street Line, Senator Maria Collett (D-12 Montgomery/Bucks) would like to share the following statement:
“I am deeply disturbed by the recent racist attack on several Asian American students on their way home from school. I’ve received many messages from Asian American residents in my district expressing their concerns about their own families’ safety in light of this incident and the ongoing trend of discrimination and violence against their communities, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. I stand with them and denounce these senseless acts of hatred.
My heart goes out to the victims and their families, and to AAPI communities across the Commonwealth. I’m proud to represent a richly diverse district and I want my young constituents in particular, who may have been shaken by this news, to know that I’m committed to fighting for them and their safety, and that my door is always open. Together, we can and must do better.
These attacks are symptoms of systemic issues that will require all of us, especially those of us in positions of privilege and power, to step up and take action. To that end, the Pennsylvania legislature must move to pass bills to strengthen hate crime protections, such as SB 710, which would require, as a condition of parole or release, individuals convicted of hate crimes to complete community service or educational classes relating to the underlying motivating factor of the crime; SB 711, which would require more training for municipal police officers in investigating, identifying and reporting hate crimes; SB 712, which would require postsecondary institutions to offer online and anonymous options for students and employees to report possible hate crimes; SB 713, which would give the Attorney General the power to track hate group activity across the state in an information database system; and SB 63, which would expand the scope of Pennsylvania’s Hate Crimes Statute, which currently prohibits threats and attacks based on race, color, religion, or national origin to include, among others, ancestry, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation and disability. We must also continue to make substantial investments in community-based violence prevention programs and support comprehensive police training and recruitment that ensures officers appropriately reflect and understand the communities in which they serve.
We cannot wait for the tensions of the world to subside on their own and for good hearts to prevail. We must put laws and resources in place to proactively improve the communities in which we live so that each and every member can feel safe.”