By Susana Jurado
PHILADELPHIA – District Attorney Larry Krasner and City Councilmembers Kendra Brooks, Jamie Gauthier, Helen Gym, and Isaiah Thomas expressed their disdain for the Trump Administration’s explicit DOJ threats against Black Lives Matter protesters last week.
They specifically cite talk by the Trump Administration about charging demonstrators with “insurrection” or “sedition.”
A number of these protesters include a large percentage of homeless people desperately fighting for their basic human rights and needs to be met, such as housing.
Reputable news outlets like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have reported that Attorney General William Barr has dictated Justice Department prosecutors to apply a law against sedition, or insurrection against the U.S. government, specifically targeting BLM protesters across the nation.
Elected officials in Seattle and Portland are also being threatened with criminal charges by Attorney General Barr, due to the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests occurring in their cities.
Based on these recent events, District Attorney Krasner voiced remarks of derision, questioning the leadership of President Trump and comically describing Attorney General Barr’s role under the president as a “consigliere,” or an advisor to a crime boss.
His voiced concerns encompassed the Trump administration’s infringement on democratic norms and personal freedoms that formed the foundation of the nation.
Additionally, he explained the harm of what these “cruel and outrageous” actions can do to “unhoused people, the most vulnerable among us,” as it can lead to harsh arrests and disciplinary prosecution.
According to District Attorney Krasner, this law and its prosecution are endangering many American lives and boldly compares it to “lawlessness and disorder, designed to intimidate protesters and dissenters into silence.”
“Invoking the might and muscle of the federal government to punish deeply impoverished and unsheltered people — many of whom are Black, people of color, and LGBTQ – is to attack our most hard-fought and sacred principles of liberty, equality, and freedom,” argued District Attorney Krasner, “The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, the birthplace of the United States Constitution, will stand strong in the face of wannabe fascists.”
City Councilmember Kendra Brooks added her own remarks of condescension toward the Trump Administration, noting its familiar pattern and trend of threatening minority community members for “asserting their basic rights.”
Councilmember Brooks also emphasized her support for these protests and described her unique experiences working with, “the residents and organizers of the encampments.”
“Together, we stand tall against bullies, bigots, and all who abuse their power for political gain…firsthand I feel strongly that their right to protest must be protected and their safety must be prioritized,” said Councilmember Brooks, “We are committed to defending our unhoused community members and protecting our democracy.”
City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier commented on the actions of the U.S. Attorney General and his ongoing threats to the homeless community in Philadelphia.
“Imagine if we directed all the money spent trying to punish these folks towards creating sustainable affordable housing instead,” Councilmember Jamie Gauthier said. “This threat from the U.S. Attorney is a gross misdirection of power that is utterly cruel and unnecessary.”
City Councilmember Gauthier also took the time to acknowledge the U.S. Attorney General’s direction to allow the Philadelphia Police to “act with impunity,” examining how these consequences can affect the stability and functioning of a democracy.
Councilmember Helen Gym described these events as another instance of the federal government “seeking to override decisions of local elected officials,” highlighting the importance of building trust instead of instilling fear, as she refers to this government action as a, “a threat to Philadelphians’ right to elect their own leaders and make their own decisions.”
“All summer, the people have spoken. We want peaceful resolutions to our most urgent problems – not threats of maximum prison sentences from an administration that should instead be focused on saving lives,” stated Councilmember Gym.
Councilmember Isaiah Thomas also discussed Trump’s DOJ threats as a way to “sow fear and division,” and called for solutions to mitigate homelessness instead of using forceful incarceration as a means to resolve the issue.
“We need more people willing to come to the table to find legitimate solutions to homelessness,” Councilmember Thomas said.
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