David Sklar, director of government affairs for the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, said the organization has pushed for hate crime legislation for almost five years, but he is more confident about a bill being passed in the upcoming session.
“I hope that the perpetrators of these crimes, these incidents know that while they are trying to drive a wedge between folks and send a message of discrimination really what they’re doing is bringing folks closer together,” Sklar said.
One listener says spray-painting innocuous graffiti on someone’s house is designed to irritate. Spray-painting a swastika on a synagogue, though, is meant to terrify. It is intended to tell a group of people they don’t belong, that they aren’t fully human, that they don’t have the same rights that others do.
David Sklar with the JCRC noted that anti-Jewish hate crimes across the country rose 37% last year. He said the vandalism of a Carmel synagogue last summer the massacre at the Pittsburgh synagogue has “the Jewish community here on edge…we believe a law sill absolutely have tangible effects,” but he said even if it’s only symbolic, “As Jewish Hoosiers we need our state to stand up and make a statement.”
“We do need a law,” said David Sklar with the Jewish Community Relations Council. “(We) need to figure out exactly what the law looks like, but there’s overwhelming consensus that it’s time for Indiana to take this step.”
After Saturday’s rampage at the Tree of Life Synagogue, the Jewish Community Relations Council in Indianapolis said anti-Semitic acts and expressions are “at an all time high, and increasing fastest in the Midwest.”
The attack on Squirrel Hills is a hate crime. The JCRC condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrific attack on Jewish-Americans that happened today inside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Bills allowing longer sentences for hate crimes have died in the Senate the last two years, and in the House the year before that. Governor Holcomb has said he’ll support a hate crimes bill in the 2019 legislative session.
The Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council led a discussion on the rise of anti-Semitic acts in schools Wednesday. Earlier this month, swastikas were drawn in a boy’s bathroom at Pike High School.
“It’s happening more and more,” said JCRC executive director Lindsey Mintz. ” The JCRC probably gets one or two calls a month from families who have had something in a classroom, through social media, between students.”