Mothers of gun violence victims shared their stories of devastation and heartbreak during a public hearing held today by a Pennsylvania House committee to find evidence on the indictment of District Attorney Larry Krasner.
During the hearing, Nakish Beale, the mother of 21-year-old gun violence victim Damonique Beale, was the only person to offer personal testimony to the committee. In her testimony, Bill described the pain she still feels as a result of her son’s death.
“Shattered and broken, I sit here before you,” Beulah said during her testimony. “Struck with grief from the time I rise in the morning to the time I lie down to rest – only my soul cannot find him.”
State Rep. John Lawrence, a Republican and chairman of the Pennsylvania House Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order, opened the hearing by providing an update on the group’s efforts.
“While the city has had many success stories over the years, attracting a diverse group of new employers, crime and lawlessness are holding the city back from reaching its potential,” Lawrence said.
“To those who question why the state House of Representatives is holding these hearings today … I say that in light of what’s going on, it would be a dereliction of duty if we didn’t take action.”
Representative Amen Brown, a Democrat who represents parts of Philadelphia, said his presence on the select committee should represent survivors and victims of gun violence in the city of Philadelphia.
“When it comes to gun violence in our city, I don’t stand by anyone trying to control the narrative,” Brown said. “It’s a very tough business and it takes courage and a willingness to do some unpopular things to achieve real change.”
Beulah also shared her thoughts on Krasner, telling the committee why her faith in the district attorney has diminished.
“When District Attorney Larry Krasner’s term began, I was hoping that the black and brown community would have a civil rights attorney in the office,” she said. “Sir. Krasner is supposed to have been a lifesaver from the injustices our community has endured for years—or so I thought. It was either extreme prison terms for petty crimes or…slaps on the wrists for violent crimes.”
In many of the videos, mothers of gun violence victims wonder how exactly the repeat offenders were able to get free and commit more crimes.
“I feel like (killers) feel like now (because) they can get away with it so often that it’s just getting bigger and bigger,” said Tiffany Flynn, mother of gun violence victim Ojane Tamia Thompson.
“We don’t have the answers to what we need to do, but we want you to do something … at least show us that you’re starting somewhere,” she said.
The hearing also included testimony from Bruce Antkowiak, a professor at St. Vincent College and a former federal prosecutor.
After the hearing, Krasner released a statement that said, “The trauma and grief expressed by some of the victims and survivors at today’s hearing, many of whom my staff and I met in person, was heartbreaking. The dedicated staff of Victim/Witness Services and CARES Crisis Response Specialists at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office work tirelessly to provide services and support to other victims and survivors, including in cases where a homicide has occurred but the police have not made an arrest.”
A second hearing is scheduled for Friday at the Navy Yard and will include two more expert witness statements.