As term nears end, Philly DA launches efforts focused on hate crimes

A woman at a podium

Philadelphia District Attorney Kelley Hodge has launched an initiative focused on hate crime, She will leave office in January when recently elected Larry Krasner is sworn in to a four-year term. (Tom MacDonald/ WHYY)

Philadelphia’s district attorney has launched a 10-member task force to focus on hate crimes and a hotline to report complaints, but those efforts may be short-lived.

“So far this year, we have had nine defendants charged with ethnic intimidation, which is nine times too many,” said District Attorney Kelley Hodge. “And in 2016, we charged 10 defendants with ethnic intimidation. However, I don’t believe the number of times this offense has been charged fully reflects the number of people in this community that have been victimized.”

Even though she has only about five weeks left in office, Hodge said the measures are necessary.

“I would not put it forth if I did not believe it was necessary for the improvement of safety and citizens in this city and I would definitely believe that our newly elected DA agrees in that regard,” she said. “But clearly, I will not be in the position to follow it through. I will just be looking and hoping that it is followed through.”

A spokesman for District Attorney-elect Larry Krasner, who takes office in January, said the matter is under review.

Philadelphia’s Human Relations Commission also accepts hate crime complaints and routes them to the appropriate agency.

Since November 2016, the commission has gotten about 100 reports of  hate and bias incidents, said Rue Landau, executive director.

Among those targeted were Jews, Muslims, immigrants, and members of the LGBTQ community. Not all were crimes, Landau said, but they send ripples of fear and distrust in the city.

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