Pennsylvania’s House Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order heard from mothers of recent Philadelphia murder victims on Thursday morning to gather perspective on District Attorney Larry Krasner’s (D) job performance. 

In a video-recorded interview, Jennifer Meleski, the mother of 24-year-old Chuckie Maude, who was murdered in the city’s Kensington neighborhood in 2021, shared her frustration with the city for creating an atmosphere in which gun violence abounds. She blamed Krasner for hamstringing police by pressing charges against officers who “stop and frisk” people o,n suspicion they are illegally carrying weapons. 

“You have no police checking them,” she said. “You visibly can see the gun: I mean, I lived in that neighborhood; I’m down there all the time, still. You see these kids, you can see the gun … . If I can see it, I know the police officer can see it, but they can’t stop them … . Their hands are tied.”

Representatives later heard from Nakisha Billa, whose 21-year-old son Domonic was shot to death last year. She excoriated the district attorney’s office for failing to aggressively pursue investigations so that Philadelphia killers can be brought to trial and to make arrests of repeat offenders who go on to commit more violence.

“It is apparent that convictions are not taking place, by the continuous daily data released of shootings and homicides,” she said. “It’s to the point that these numbers are being released as common as a scoreboard in a basketball game. This is not a game; I’m tired of losses every day.”

Since Krasner took office in 2018, the City of Brotherly Love has experienced a violent crime crisis the likes of which it has never seen. Homicides reached an all-time high of 562 in 2021 and this year’s murders could be on track to surpass that number, having reached 401 already. 

Republican state lawmakers initially had little Democratic support in creating the ad hoc committee to consider the causes of and remedies to crime in Pennsylvania and especially Philadelphia. But Krasner’s refusal to turn over documents to the committee in response to subpoenas led the state’s House of Representatives to hold him in contempt earlier this month by a vote of 162 to 38. Many legislators have said they want the prosecutor impeached for failing to perform his duties by declining to prosecute many violent repeat offenders. 

Krasner has attempted to blame his Republican critics for increases in crime rates.

“The states in the U.S. that have a rate of crime that is 40 percent higher are MAGA states,” he said in an interview with Fox 29 on Wednesday. “They are Trump states.”

Many observers pointed out that Krasner’s statement was false. In a tweet, center-left attorney and commentator Jonathan Turley called Krasner’s claim “bizarre.” 

The committee has another hearing scheduled for Friday, during which members will take testimony from representatives of the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association and the Pennsylvania Commission on sentencing. 

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Larry Krasner” by Larry Krasner.