Whose Victims? Defending Democracy in Philadelphia

The following was submitted by ALC Staff Member Sergio Hyland following the Victims of Violent Crime in Philadelphia House Judiciary Committee meeting held Friday, May 3, 2024 in Philadelphia. 

May 6, 2024, Philadelphia, PA – There was a circus in town recently. But it wasn’t fun. In fact, it was sad. Once again, tough-on-crime alarmists have put on a show in an attempt to disqualify the will of the majority of Philadelphians by putting our democratically-elected District Attorney Larry Krasner on trial.

Last week judiciary committee leaders held a hearing on Krasner’s policies, making it appear as if victims of crime are offended by Krasner’s approach to dealing with harm. However, six of the seven victims who testified were family members of law enforcement officers. This begs the question: exactly which victims of crime matter?

As a youth offender, I have also been a victim of crime—several times. I support Larry Krasner—and so do countless others like me. As a mature adult, I now understand the impact of the harm I’ve caused. But I also understand that much of my behavior was the expected result of obvious, unaddressed societal ills. More importantly, I have taken accountability for the harm my actions caused my community. 

There are no walls between victims and offenders in our communities. Only tough-on-crime politicians and law enforcement peddle this nonsense. According to a study by the National Institute of Justice, violence weaves in and out of the lives of both victims and offenders in our communities, and all of us are impacted. Only by working together can we heal our communities and make them safer places to live in and raise our families. 

Most experts agree that poverty is the real root cause of crime. Still, in an “advanced” society where “law & order” is presented as the only answer to crime, there’s no wonder why America has the puzzling distinction of incarcerating its citizens at a higher rate than any other nation on the planet. Yet, our communities are no safer. This is problematic! And this is why we voted for Larry Krasner. Twice! Overwhelmingly!

Nevertheless, the last time this circus rolled into town, we rolled up our sleeves and galvanized our community to say no.  In 2022, these alarmist, disingenuous politicians, attempted to impeach Larry Krasner for the very same reasons. They failed! And they’ll fail again. Because in this democracy, a handful of people with unlimited funds shouldn’t be allowed to overrule the majority!

The people of Philadelphia elected Larry Krasner because we understand that the issue of crime in our communities will never be solved with a tough-on-crime approach that funds policing and prisons at ever higher rates while cutting funds from resources that have been proven to prevent crimes in the first place. Krasner understands this. More importantly, he listens to those in the most impacted communities.  He also understands that the answer to these issues won’t be solved by more incarceration and harsher sentences.

We are all survivors of harm and violence who are raising our voices in stark opposition to the tough-on-crime operatives who do not speak for us or our communities. They have never bothered to ask the most impacted communities about the solutions we want to see. Put simply, they do not speak for us or our communities. Our votes already spoke for us.