Supporters of Philadelphia’s district attorney say that they believe some Pennsylvania state legislators are attempting to strip citizens of their votes.
The Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity, alongside members of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly and other nonprofit organization leaders, held a news conference in support of District Attorney Larry Krasner following efforts to impeach him and the decision by state legislators to hold Krasner in contempt for allegedly violating a subpoena.
State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, state Sen. Vincent Hughes, City Commissioner Omar Sabir and other community activists were on hand for the news conference.
Throughout the news conference, discussed the effort to impeach Krasner, calling it a political stunt by some state legislators who could disenfranchise Philadelphia voters.
“If we allow something like this to happen now ... we are saying that our votes mean nothing and that our voice means nothing, said Catherine Hicks, president of Philadelphia’s NAACP branch. “It is our right to choose who represents our communities and we cannot allow anyone to take that away from us.”
“This is directly connected to a historical legacy of people trying to take the votes of Black people right out of our hands,” said the Rev. Mark Kelly Taylor, pastor of Mother Bethel A.M.E Church. “If we sit back silently and Larry Krasner is impeached successfully no elected official within the city of Philadelphia is safe in the future.”
“We have an obligation to protect our future and the votes of every future Philadelphian,” he said.
Kenyatta questioned state legislators’ sincerity in their attempt to solve Philadelphia’s gun violence crisis.
“Every single action that they have taken has been an impediment to us doubling down on strategies that actually reduce gun violence,” said Kenyatta. “So, I can’t really trust that they’re trying to impeach Larry Krasner because they care about what is happening here in the city of Philadelphia.”
Hughes highlighted the hypocrisy he said he believes legislators are showing in their oversight of Philadelphia.
“It is striking ... to attempt to go after our district attorney who has not been charged with any crime and to ignore a DA who has been disbarred,” said Hughes. “All we are doing here is pointing out an obvious fact that our district attorney within the city of Philadelphia is being gone after when he has not been charged with any crime, while the district attorney in Somerset has been charged with numerous crimes and is being bypassed.”
The effort to impeach Krasner began back in July with legislators forming the Select Committee to Restore Law and Order to investigate the Philadelphia district attorney’s office.
The committee is hosting hearings next Thursday and Friday at the Philadelphia Navy Yard to decide if they should recommend impeachment to the state House.
According to a release from the district attorney’s office, Krasner has requested that the hearings be made accessible to Philadelphians and that he be invited to testify on his own behalf.
Jason Gottesman, a House Republican Caucus spokesperson, responded to Krasner’s request in a statement sent to The Philadelphia Tribune that reads:
“Next week’s public hearings are investigative hearings being held by the Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order. The District Attorney will not dictate the procedures taken by a House Committee in the midst of an investigation. It is shocking that someone who refused to comply with a duly-issued subpoena and challenged the validity of the Select Committee in court is now trying to control the process by which that Committee operates.
“The hearings have been noticed pursuant to the Sunshine Act, facilities at the Navy Yard have been secured, and testifiers have been scheduled. If in the course of its investigation the Select Committee finds it appropriate, the District Attorney may be offered the opportunity to appear under oath and answer questions relevant to the Select Committee’s investigation.”