In the wake of nationwide outrage over white nationalists’ demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, a Philly politician is calling for a “Heather Heyer Act” to help crack down on acts of domestic terrorism.
The act, intended to update the state’s terrorism law, would serve to protect state residents from “neo-Nazi, white supremacist assaults that we see going on around the nation,” state Sen. Art Haywood (D-4th District) said Monday.
“Currently, our laws do not fully address domestic terrorism and do not go far enough in dissuading and punishing those who conspire to or act on those inclinations,” Haywood continued.
The legislation will address his “concerns with the statute of limitations, conspiracy, fine limits and degree of criminality” faced by individuals who participate in events such as those seen in Charlottesville.
Currently, Pennsylvania is home to numerous hate groups, including the white supremacist Keystone State Skinheads, neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement and white nationalist groups like Vanguard and the Traditional Workers Party, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Haywood said he is looking to rally bipartisan support to pass such legislation, but the process may take months.
“Domestic terrorism is what we saw in Virginia. Ms. Heyer’s murder was meant to advance the white supremacist agenda in America and to intimidate those citizens who stand against it,” Haywood said in a statement. “We must deter these despicable actions now with strong legislation so that perpetrators and collaborators know that they will be held accountable and punished severely for any act of domestic terrorism.”