FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 22, 2023
PHRC condemns Penn Hillel building vandalism
Harrisburg, PA- The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) condemns the vandalism that occurred Thursday morning at the Penn Hillel building on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.
According to a statement released by Penn Hillel, on Thursday morning around 7 a.m. an unknown student entered the building, knocked over furniture and shouted antisemitic obscenities. He was there for less than a minute before he was chased out by staff.
"The news of this vandalism is saddening. It is upsetting to hear of acts of antisemitism at any time, but especially days before the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur," said Joel Bolstein, PHRC Chair. "Over the past few years, we have seen a rise of antisemitism in Pennsylvania. The PHRC would like the Jewish community in Pennsylvania to know that we support you and denounce any acts of antisemitism, discrimination or hate."
"As Pennsylvania's top civil rights enforcement agency, the PHRC condemns this act of vandalism and antisemitism," said PHRC Executive Director Chad Dion Lassiter, MSW. "Antisemitism has no place in our commonwealth or our country. We are glad to hear no one was hurt and that there will be increased security, however no one should ever feel afraid to enter a religious building. PHRC stands with the Jewish Community of the University of Pennsylvania and others."
In a 2022 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), there were 852 reported incidents of antisemitic propaganda flier distribution in 2022, that is up from 422 in 2021.
According to the ADL, antisemitism is up across the country and is at its highest level since the ADL began tracking incidents in 1979. In Pennsylvania, there were a total of 114 recorded antisemitic incidents in 2022, that's up 65% from 2021.
If you are the victim of a hate crime, such as assault or property damage, contact your local police department or the Pennsylvania State Police. The PHRC does not charge or investigate hate crimes or criminal offenses. However, the PHRC does track incidents reported to us to inform the Pennsylvania Interagency Task Force on Community Activities and Relations. The PHRC can also help you in determining if an act of hate also violates the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA).
The PHRC, the state's leading civil rights enforcement agency, urges anyone who has experienced acts of discrimination or hate to file a complaint with the PHRC by calling 717-787-4410. If you are the victim of violence or if you witness an act of violence, you should call 911 immediately. Pennsylvania has Hate Crime and Ethnic Intimidation laws that protect and support victims. For more information and resources visit www.PHRC.pa.gov.