District Attorney Seth Williams has assigned a six-member team to "vigorously prosecute" hate crimes after several disturbing incidents since the presidential election.
"Last week, as a result of what was going on nationally and locally, I suggested and directed my chief of staff to designate one assistant district attorney in each of our [six] designated zones to be a part of a Hate Crimes Task Force, if you will," Williams said Monday.
Williams said the six prosecutors would gain expertise in handling hate-crime cases and may respond when arrests are made involving alleged hate crimes.
"Philadelphia will not stand for hate crimes, and bigotry will not be tolerated," Williams said.
A joint statement issued Monday by Williams, City Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante, and Police Commissioner Richard Ross said their offices would "continue to prosecute any and all hate crimes to the fullest extent of the law."
The District Attorney's Office was unable to say Monday how many hate crimes had been prosecuted in Philadelphia - or whether any had been prosecuted at all.
In December 2015, during his last month as mayor, Michael A. Nutter established a $2,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of anyone arrested for a hate crime.
Lauren Hitt, spokeswoman for Mayor Kenney, said that reward still stands but has never been given out.
In a report released last week on 2015 hate crime statistics, the FBI said that 14 hate crimes were reported by authorities in Philadelphia last year.
Six of those cases were racially motivated, five were motivated by religion, and three were motivated by sexual orientation, the FBI said.
Pennsylvania's crime code has no statute on hate crimes. The closest charge is "ethnic intimidation," which covers the "malicious intention toward the race, color, religion, or national origin of another individual or group of individuals" and is filed in connection with another crime, such as assault or arson.
The LGBTQ community is not covered under the state statute, according to Mary Catherine Roper, deputy legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania.
"As long as you're going to have a hate-crime law . . . it should cover anybody who is likely to be subject to a hate crime," she said Monday. "That includes LGBTQ people."
In the days since the election, black University of Pennsylvania students were sent racist and violent social media messages from a group in the GroupMe app; South Philly storefront windows were spray-painted "Sieg Heil" and "Trump" with swastikas; and a car was spray-painted with "Trump Rules" and a racist insult.