HARRISBURG – Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33) took another crucial step toward protecting Pennsylvania monuments and memorials against vandalism and destruction by re-introducing legislation to protect our state’s rich history.
Mastriano’s bill would establish procedures to prohibit the relocation, removal, alteration or other disturbance of monuments located on public property. Penalties would range from a misdemeanor when the property damage is less than $2,000 to a maximum of a first-degree felony when the property damage exceeds $500,000.
“The Bill of Rights guarantees Americans the right to protest and speak freely but destroying monuments and vandalizing statues is not free speech. It is a crime, and it should be punished accordingly,” Mastriano said. “Our history has been complicated at times, but it should never be erased by vigilante extremists.”
In addition, the bill would withhold state support from municipalities and local governments that refuse to uphold federal, state and local laws protecting public monuments, memorials and statues from destruction or vandalism. The legislation also would require the Pennsylvania Attorney General to prioritize the prosecution of any matters related to the vandalism of monuments within the state’s jurisdiction when a district attorney refuses to prosecute.
The legislation was created in response to high-profile cases in which public monuments were vandalized, including the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a monument to World War I veterans in Pittsburgh, a statue of Philadelphia abolitionist Matthias Baldwin and memorials to George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant.
The legislation mirrors Mastriano’s Senate Bill 1321, which was introduced near the end of the 2019-20 Legislative Session.
CONTACT: Josh Herman (717) 787-4651