HARRISBURG – In the wake of recent rampant and violent looting in Philadelphia that caused significant property damage and loss, House Republicans today unveiled a package of anti-looting legislation that will increase penalties on looters, put additional teeth in juvenile curfews, crackdown on social media coordination of looting and enhance penalties for those looting state property, including liquor stores.
“The uncontrolled looting and violence we saw in Philadelphia recently was more than unacceptable: It was disastrous and disgusting,” said House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster).
“Pennsylvanians want safe communities—and they need them for neighborhoods to grow and thrive—so I am proud to see House Republicans step up and further our Keystone Commitment by introducing this package of bills to make our streets safer and help prevent this looting from occurring again.”
With some of the looting and violence promoted and furthered by the Philadelphia social media influencer known as “Meatball,” Rep. K.C. Tomlinson (R-Bucks) will be introducing legislation to create a new criminal offense for those who utilize social media to incite rioting, burglaries, thefts or other dangerous criminal conduct that threatens others.
“Coordinating this kind of behavior only exacerbates the risk to public safety and the unchecked lawlessness we saw on the streets of Philadelphia last week,” said Tomlinson. “Those who use their social media influence and presence to incite this kind of behavior need to be held accountable for that action. It is not acceptable for influencers to utilize their social media platforms to cause crimes.”
Noting the increase of looting over the last several years, particularly under the cover of otherwise peaceful and lawful civil protests, Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) will introduce legislation to create a specific criminal penalty for looting.
“It has become clear with events over the last several years that looting itself is a premeditated and often coordinated crime committed with purpose and intent. It is time our criminal laws reflect this type of behavior and the state specifically criminalize looting to deter future planning and incidents of looting,” White said. “Criminalizing looting specifically will give law enforcement and prosecutors more tools to get looters off the streets and proactively deter looting incidents.”
With an understanding that many recent looting incidents have involved juveniles, and youth curfews are a useful tool to prevent patterns of looting, Rep. Tomlinson will also introduce legislation to put teeth in youth curfews by providing a tool for police to arrest and charge juveniles that intentionally violate a lawful curfew with the intention to commit a crime.
“We need strong tools and disincentives to prevent and stop looting when it occurs on a repeated and coordinated basis,” she stated. “Looting is primarily perpetrated by youth, preserving public safety by allowing the arrest and detention of those offenders who are breaking curfew with the clear and obvious intention of committing crimes will stand as a preventative tool to curb ongoing looting, violence, and property damage.”
Recognizing that nearly 20 liquor stores in Philadelphia were looted or closed due to the looting in Philadelphia, Rep. Joe Hogan (R-Bucks) said he will be introducing legislation to provide for a penalty enhancement for looting state-owned property, including liquor stores.
“If coordinated and targeted looting of private property is not bad enough, we saw the Philadelphia looters specifically target state-owned liquor stores, which jeopardized state property and state employees,” Hogan said. “We must make sure that people know state-owned property, and specifically liquor stores, are off limits for those who seek to only bring harm and chaos to their communities.”
You can view the co-sponsorship memos for this package of bills here
Media Contacts for Bill Sponsors:
Rep. K.C. Tomlinson: Joe Szymanski – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Joe Hogan: Joe Szymanski – email@example.com
Rep. Martina White: Dave Foster – firstname.lastname@example.org
Republican Leader Bryan Cutler
100th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jason Gottesman