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"Hate has no place here in Pennsylvania. But unfortunately, we've seen an alarming uptick in hate crimes across the commonwealth. These bias incidents tear communities apart," said Gov. Wolf. "It is my hope that Pennsylvanians will rise up against hate, that we will unite to scorch the bias and prejudice that hurts groups or individuals solely because of their race, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. We unfortunately cannot rely on humanity alone, which is why I'm making this $4.5 million available for non-profit organizations to protect themselves."
The $4.5 million in new funding for the program is available through the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
According to data from the Pennsylvania State Police Uniform Crime Reporting System, hate crimes have increased exponentially in Pennsylvania over the past two years. From 2016 through 2019, Pennsylvania saw an average of 88 hate crimes annually. In 2020, incidents of hate crimes rose by 33% to 111. Just this past year in 2021, there was a shocking 97% increase to 219 crimes. These increases in Pennsylvania are not an anomaly, states across the nation are seeing the same increases as politics and opinions wedge a divide across the United States. While these numbers and increases are alarming, it's important to note that hate crimes are also overwhelmingly underreported. At one point, the U.S. Department of Justice estimated that nearly two-thirds of hate crimes are never reported.
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"The Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition is grateful to Gov. Wolf, the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic and Republican Caucuses and the House of Representatives' Democratic Caucus for their cooperative efforts to continue funding this program with the goal of keeping our religious and communal facilities safe from acts of violence and hate," said Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition Chairman Marc Zucker. "As demonstrated so tragically in the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh and most recently by the hostage incident at the Beth Israel synagogue in Texas, there is a clear demand for protecting such institutions and those who worship there."
PCCD's Non-Profit Security Grant Program administers funding to non-profit organizations which serve individuals, groups, or institutions that are included within a bias motivation category for single bias hate crime incidents as identified by the FBI's Hate Crime Statistics publication. Applicants will be eligible to apply for awards ranging from $5,000 to $150,000 for security enhancements that will protect the safety and security of their membership.
"Temples, mosques, churches, and community centers are people's spiritual homes and spaces providing people with a sense of belonging and safety, but unfortunately these places are targets of hate crimes," said Executive Director of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, Stephanie Sun. "Pennsylvania was originally founded as a sanctuary for religious freedom and tolerance. Throughout the history of Pennsylvania, the commonwealth has been a leader in acceptance and tolerance of all people no matter their beliefs or origin. Gov. Wolf honors this heritage by continuing to prioritize protection for groups that face discrimination and bias, and is determined to fight against any type of hate crimes."
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The solicitation period to submit applications for this funding will begin next week. Visit PCCD's Nonprofit Security Grant Program webpage for more information about the program.
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