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What will Pa. Human Relations Commission new Civil Rights Division do?

Aired; January 29th, 2024.


The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission is creating a dedicated Civil Rights Division whose mission will be to combat hate and promote anti-racism.

The creation of the new Civil Rights Division comes at a time when hate crimes and acts of discrimination are increasing in Pennsylvania and across the nation. In 2022, nearly 300 hate crimes were reported in Pennsylvania according to U.S. Department of Justice – that’s almost twice as many as the year before. More than two-thirds of them were racially motivated. Since the Israel-Hamas war started in October, Anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes have soared across the country.

Chad Dion Lassiter, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission

On The Spark Monday, Chad Dion Lassiter, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, said the Human Relations Commission has been promoting civil rights for the 68 years it has been in existence, but the new division will do more proactive work,”What we’re really looking at with this division is just, multilayered, multi-layered, excuse me, approach to really dealing with, some of the hate that we see. So investigating civil tensions and conflicts and incidents, enforcing the anti-discrimination law, promoting anti-racism through education and outreach and engagement in a very proactive way. Not waiting for civil unrest to occur, not waiting for someone to desecrate a synagogue and or a masjid and or, a house of faith or to engage in forms of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-Black racism, racism towards whites and others disabled AAPI. Those things are going to still happen. But what the Civil Rights division will do hopefully, is get into the communities, and be peace builders.”

What will the work of the Civil Rights Division look like on the ground? Lassiter said,”I think peace and justice looks like working in communities, not as a governmental entity, but working alongside communities and also from a strength based perspective, letting communities do the leading. What it looks like is if there are neo-Nazis, that there are white supremacist, white nationalists in a particular catchment area, it’s the civil rights division going into that catchment area, working with the communities, creating our no hate in our state town hall. Of these, no hate in our state. Towns have always existed. I have to ask. We’re just formalizing it. It means that if there’s an anti Semitic incident in the state, we’re not looking for retribution. We’re looking for redemption. How can we get into schools? How can we do a workshop on anti-Semitism? How can we do a workshop on Islamophobia? How can we make sure that white individuals that are living in rural areas are not being discriminated against? Because maybe it’s classism? Maybe they decided not to go to Mansfield University. They have that right. We should not be treating people subhuman. It also looks like, against the backdrop of people talking about, you know, woke, you know, we were in this woke moment. No, it just simply means how can we make sure that people are not discriminated against?”

Lassiter indicated the Civil Rights Division should be up and running by the second week in February.



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