Statement of Darrell (Drick) Boyd

Eastern University, West Philly Mennonite Fellowship  (Philadelphia, PA)


I am aware of the charges that have been brought against me. I want to make clear that did not go to Colisimos Gun shop on January 16 to create a public inconvenience or to cause harm to anyone. I went to communicate my concern about illegal guns on the streets of our city and to invite  Mr. Colismo to join in the effort to stop the flow of those guns, some of which come from his store 

For years I was troubled by the nightly reports of violence and death on the streets of Philadelphia, and  I agonized over the statistics of violence in our city. I wondered what could I, as an individual and as a Christian do in response to the reports I was hearing.

About two years ago, I met Bryan Miller, the founder of CeaseFire New Jersey and CeaseFire Pennsylvania, who explained in simple terms how the gun laws in Pennsylvania allow for the process called straw buying. As has been repeatedly documented, straw buying is the means by which most legally purchased guns find their way into the hands of people who use those guns for criminal activity. Bryan helped me see how common sense laws could be passed to address this situation: the one handgun a month bill and the lost and stolen bill.

So I began writing letters to my local newspaper and to my representatives. I  organized a community forum on gun violence. I have written on the issue, and talked at length with friends and colleagues. I am a professor of Urban Studies at Eastern University, and  I have had personal contact with students who have lost brothers and friends and sons to gun violence. I have had at least one student who survived a gun shot wound as a young child, and as a young adult is still traumatized by it. So over time changing these laws has become more than practical, it has also become personal for me.

Last year I became part of the group, Heeding God’s Call. As a part of that group,  I learned about the  Code of Conduct  for Responsible Gun Dealers that had been signed by Wal-Mart. I also learned that historically Colisimo’s Gun Shop had been a major source of illegal guns in this area. So some representatives from our group met with Mr. Colisimo to try and convince him to sign the code. When he refused to sign the code, we were faced with the question of what more should we do.

So, on Friday, January 16 a little after 2 pm, I rang the buzzer in Mr. Colisimo’s store.  I had a copy of the Code of Conduct in my pocket and my purpose was to offer him another opportunity to sign the code. I rang the buzzer and was  refused entry to the store. When it became apparent they were not going to let us in, I and the two others with me sat down in front of the door to the shop

My reason for taking part in this action is summed up by the Apostle Paul when he writes: “I beseech you brothers and sisters, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to the Lord. For this is your spiritual act of  worship.” As a Christian these word meant that I needed to literally putting my body on the line for stopping gun violence, and by presenting my body as a living sacrifice for my convictions.

At one point before I was arrested, I said to one of the police officers: “You know we are really on your side because you guys are the ones getting shot at with these guns”, but he didn’t want to hear anything of it. The irony of this whole affair is that the police who arrested me are the ones on the front lines suffering from the presence of illegal guns on our streets

It is also ironic that the D.A.’s office is bringing this case, since they have testified in Harrisburg on behalf of the very laws I too would like to see passed. It is even more ironic that I am being tried in a court in Philadelphia, which has passed these laws, but has been prevented by legal challenges from enforcing these laws. Had these laws been enforceable, there would have been no need for our action.

We were trying to accomplish the same things that the DA’s office, the City Council and the police are trying to accomplish. We were trying to keep illegal guns off the streets by holding gun shops like Colisimo’s responsible for the straw buyers who purchase guns in their shops

If we here today are wrong, then the office of the District Attorney is wrong, and the city of Philadelphia is wrong, and the two candidates running for District Attorney are wrong because we are all on the same side, seeking to achieve the same goals of keeping illegal guns off our city streets, and ultimately save lives.

Your honor, I ask that you see the irony in this case and see it for it what it truly is: a complete contradiction of justice. On that basis I ask that you acquit me and the others on the charges brought against us.

Read Drick's blog at http://drickboyd.blogspot.com/