Philadelphia – Today, Mayor Jim Kenney signed two bills into law that provides stronger protections against discrimination and acts of hate and bias in the City. The Mayor was joined by Councilman At-Large Derek Green, who crafted Bill 170334 which amended the Fair Practices Ordinance of the Philadelphia Code by adding a provision authorizing the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) to order a business to cease operations in certain circumstances if found to be discriminatory. Councilman Kenyatta Johnson was also present to witness the signing of Bill 170204, which also amends the Philadelphia Code to increase penalties for certain acts of ethnic intimidation and institutional vandalism. Rue Landau, Executive Director for PCHR, and Amber Hikes, Director of the Office of LGBT Affairs were also present.
“I’m glad to sign these important bills today, as they both confirm that this city will not tolerate discrimination, and will use any tools necessary to combat it, to ensure that Philadelphia is a safe and equitable place for everyone to live, work and visit,” said Mayor Kenney. “I’m grateful for the thoughtful leadership of Councilman Green and Councilman Johnson and their work to protect all Philadelphians from hate and discrimination.”
In March, Councilman Green authored Bill No. 170334, which allows the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations to order a business to cease operations for a period of time when the Commission has issued a finding that the business has engaged in severe or repeated violations of the Fair Practices ordinance. The language in Bill No. 170334 explicitly allows PCHR to use its enforcement authority to order a business to cease operations under egregious circumstances.
“Any form of discrimination or intimidation on the basis of one’s ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, income or other demographic, is an impediment to the growth of not just our city, but to our nation,” said Councilman Green. “We will not tolerate it and will do everything in our power to prevent discrimination in the businesses of our City.”
Councilman Johnson introduced Bill 170204 in May, entitled “Ethnic Intimidation and Institutional Vandalism,” which amends a section of the Philadelphia Code to increase penalties for ethnic intimidation and institutional vandalism, so that each act of intimidation and vandalism, including each act of vandalizing an individual headstone or grave marker, would constitute a separate violation, subject to monetary fines of a Class III offense and upon the third successive violation, imprisonment of thirty days. Under the Code, institutional vandalism is broadly defined as intentionally desecrating, vandalizing, or defacing facilities such as places of religious worship, cemeteries or any courthouse or historic monument. This bill expands the definition of institutional vandalism to include any property located in any facility, including, but not limited to, any headstone, grave marker, or gravesite.
“I aim with these proposed changes to clarify that under each of those grave stones was an individual, deserving of respect and protection. With the support of my colleagues, this bill will classify each desecrated gravestone as a separate offense as opposed to the possibility that mass vandalism and destruction could be punished as a single act,” said Councilman Johnson. “There is simply no place for anti-Semitism or any other type of hate in the City of Philadelphia, and I hope that this legislation will make the City’s position clear to all those who would seek to intimidate our citizens.”
Both bills go into effect immediately, and PCHR will create regulations for Bill 170334 that amend the Fair Practices Ordinance and work with the Philadelphia Police Department in monitoring compliance for Bill 170204.