PHILADELPHIA (December 18, 2023) — Philadelphians ranging from faith and community leaders to returning citizens and crime survivors gathered at the Church of Christian Compassion in West Philadelphia on Monday to denounce the passage of Act 40, condemning the legislation as an anti-democracy move to erase 155,000 votes for the current District Attorney of Philadelphia.Specifically, Act 40 empowers the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General (PAOAG) to appoint a special prosecutor to prosecute crimes committed on and near SEPTA property. Act 40 also requires Philadelphia taxpayers to reimburse the PAOAG for all expenses accrued for the investigation and prosecution of these crimes. While the PAOAG considers the constitutionality of Act 40, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and other entities await that decision to challenge this law in court.
“As a survivor and returning citizen, Act 40 feels like another thing that was done for us without us,” said Rev. Dr. Chris Kimmenez, Executive Director of Healing Communities PA. “The lack of transparency, the lack of consultation with survivors — we didn’t know anything about this legislation. It was done in Harrisburg, in the dark, without our knowledge. Elections have consequences. It’s time for some in Harrisburg to stop finding ways to disenfranchise people because they don’t agree with our policy positions. Philadelphia will not take this lying down.”“Today, I speak as the Civic Engagement Strategist of POWER Interfaith,” said Rev. Mark Tyler, Senior Pastor of Mother Bethel AME Church. “In this position, our team works on voter engagement, voter turnout, and voter protection. I am often met with the hopeless refrain of community members that ‘voting doesn’t matter’. I always push back and remind them that every vote is sacred and that every vote counts. This new law, should it stand, makes refuting that claim more difficult. Therefore, POWER Interfaith calls upon the Attorney General to declare Act 40 unconstitutional. This is the only way that the votes of thousands of Philadelphia residents will be safeguarded. If not, then our Commonwealth is no different than those who sought to overturn the 2020 General Election. Attorney General, we urge you to protect our vote: use your power and declare this law invalid and restore hope to Philadelphia voters by showing that voting does, in fact, matter.”
“This is a convoluted bill that is unconstitutional,” said Pa. Sen. Sharif Street (District 3). “It’s unconstitutional because it disenfranchises the state’s only minority majority county from making its own electoral decisions. It’s convoluted because before it was passed and signed into law, there were four different interpretations of the bill among legislators of both parties. It is an immoral and ridiculous law written by a lawmaker in a district some 300 miles away from Philadelphia. I suggest Pa. Sen. Wayne Langerholc focus his attention on Johnstown and not Philadelphia.”“I had the same feeling of outrage as many others after being informed of this legislation,” said Councilmember Kendra Brooks (At-Large). “As a member of Philadelphia’s City Council, the constant attacks on our city’s democracy are disgusting. It feels like every six months, folks across the state try to disenfranchise the voters of Philadelphia. When Philadelphia voters come together to elect their officials, we should not allow folks that do not have jurisdiction in our city to override those decisions. When one of us is under attack, we ALL are under attack. And it’s my responsibility to support my constituents and ensure that their rights are always being upheld. We must protect our democracy and make sure that all votes matter.”
“In 1967, I took an oath to uphold the United States Constitution as a member of the military serving in Vietnam,” said Imam Kenneth Nuriddin of the Philadelphia Masjid. “To those in Harrisburg who have taken an oath to uphold not only the U.S. Constitution, but the Pennsylvania Constitution, those words mean something because they are the bond, the contract, that you have with ‘We the People.’ We know that there is a threat to vested interests who do not want to share power with us, and so they are trying to claw back some of that power, much like with the implementation of Black codes to take back newly-won rights. By electing our current prosecutor, our voice has spoken. We are not going back.”
CONTACT:[email protected], 215-686-8713Dustin Slaughter,
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is the largest prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania, and one of the largest in the nation. It serves the more than 1.5 million residents of the City and County of Philadelphia, employing 600 lawyers, detectives, and support staff. The District Attorney’s Office is responsible for the prosecution of approximately 40,000 criminal cases annually. Learn more about the DAO by visiting PhillyDA.org.