Pennsylvania Senate urged to stand agains white supremacy

08.21.17 | Bob Price

How to tackle white supremacist mentalities and racism in the United States - what many lawmakers question in the aftermath of the Charlottesville, Virginia violence and tragedy.

"Obviously, there's no place for bigotry, hatred, racism, in America," said Republican State Senator Mike Regan.

Here in Pennsylvania, Democratic Senator Daylin Leach requests the Pennsylvania Senate to denounce "bigotry, violence, & the warped philosophy of neo-nazis and white supremacists" in a new memo. Senator Leach says he proposed the resolution following the violence in Charlottesville.

"We can disagree on healthcare, we can disagree on taxes or whatever, but if you're not against this, why are you in the legislature?" asked Senator Leach.

In the memo, Senator Leach denounces the dehumanization of any person based upon religion, race, or ethnicity and writes "the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality." He hopes to rally the support of the entire senate.

"If you do not sign onto this or agree to this, it seems like there's only two possible reasons - one you agree with the David Dukes of the world, what they're saying or that you don't agree, but you're afraid to alienate people that do," said Senator Leach.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there's currently 40 hate groups in Pennsylvania, a hate map shows where each is located.

"It's a shame we have to go through this exercise of denouncing Neo-nazism, and racism, and hatred, and all these things that are so horrible. It seems only natural, common sense, of course we do, but it seems like it's important to just to speak up, and say it, say it out loud, 'I denounce these horrible things,'" said Senator Regan.

However, Senator Regan, who cosponsors the memo, says free speech should remain protected.

"Anyone's free to peaceably assemble and certainly you have the right to free speech, but when it extends out into harming other people or if it's infringing on other peoples' rights, that's when it becomes wrong," he said.

Senator Leach says he wants the memo to be as uncontroversial as possible, something like Diabetes Week. When the Senate goes back into session in the fall, he plans to talk to any lawmaker that hasn't signed on. If there's no opposition, he says the resolution will take effect.