PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Pennsylvania House held the first of two hearings on Thursday to charge Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. The chairman highlighted the brutal crime and lawlessness in the city and pointed a finger at Krasner.

Five families spoke at the hearing on Thursday, describing the pain of losing loved ones to city violence, as well as disappointment with how their case was dealt with by the Philadelphia police department and the district attorney’s office.

Krasner was not invited to testify, but a group of his supporters protested outside the trial.

“Shattered and broken, I’m sitting here in front of you,” Nakisha Billa said.

Billa gave an emotional testimony to the Pennsylvania House Law and Order Commission over a year after her son Dominic was m*rdered near the Philadelphia Mills Mall.

“This is not an att*ck or a witch hunt, as I heard Mr. Krasner mention it,” said Bill. “It is about taking steps to restore law and order.”

Bill was one of the few families who shared their grief personally and practically during Thursday’s hearing when the home committee presses prosecution against Krasner.

“I can’t see my daughter again,” said Malikah Womack. “I have to live with this every day and it hurts.”

“Crime and lawlessness are keeping the city from reaching its full potential,” said US international John Lawrence.

Driven by Republican officials in Harrisburg, pressure has been underway since June to remove Krasner, blaming Democratic politics on rising crime and continued gun violence in the city.

But across the street in Navy Yard, protesters opposed what they called the political circus upstairs. They are defending the district attorney who has been re-elected by a majority of the voters.

“People wanted to come here today,” Saleem Holbrook said, “and basically say we can’t be charged.”

“They cannot take the floor of Philadelphia, and they cannot take away our rights,” said Kris Henderson.

Krasner was not invited to testify on Thursday, and earlier this month the House voted to disdain him for refusing to comply with the committee’s summons.

“The Prosecution Leader had four options to cooperate with this committee and instead chose to sue the committee,” said Lawrence, “so I would encourage him to withdraw his lawsuit before the committee and cooperate with the committee.”

On Thursday afternoon, the district attorney issued a statement criticizing the committee for not opening the hearing to the public.

“Once again, I ask the selection committee to give me the opportunity to speak and answer their questions in a fully public and accessible forum,” Krasner said in a statement.

Krasner’s full statement:

“I am not surprised that a government commission that openly abuses the impeachment process to invalidate Philly’s election and remove Philly’s votes did not really open today’s taxpayer funded hearing to all taxpayers. The people they disliked were changed away from the door without giving an explanation, despite the apparent non-staffing of the 50 seats it had made available in the 150-seat space at the Naval Yard. Nevertheless, far more Philadelphia than attended this hearing stepped out and exercised its constitutionally protected right to express its feelings towards non-Filan legislators who rejected their vote.

“The trauma and sadness expressed by co-victims and survivors in today’s hearing, many of whom I have met personally with my staff, were painful. The dedicated staff of Victim / Witness Services and CARES Peer Crisis Responders at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office tirelessly provide services and support to co-victims and survivors – including where there has been a homicide but the police have failed to make an arrest.

“I appreciate that the committee has invited its own lawyer, Professor Bruce Antkowiak, to testify on the law and procedures of the Pennsylvania jury. Murder trial for a former Philadelphia police officer This expert testimony challenges the suggestion that our office acted unlawfully or unethically in prosecuting the case or in our policy and discretion.

“Professor Antkowiak sums up in his public report for the Special Committee:” The system of checks and balances chosen by the founders of our government was found to be effective in limiting arbitrary abuses by each individual unit. the authority of the district attorney has the same authority on which the system is based to be the final remedial body for abuses in other wards. every four years, when the district attorney stands before the public to account for his discretionary decisions. ”

“Again, I ask that the Select Committee allow me, as a purpose of their investigation, to express my views and answer their questions in a fully public and accessible forum.”

The next hearing is scheduled for Friday.

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