Article Written by Laura Elizabeth Jenkins
“Your son was a patriot,” said a solemn-faced woman wearing a burgundy beret, representing a local Honor Guard. She faced father Lawrence Perna and handed him a folded American flag, rendering honors to his son, Matthew.
Matthew Perna, 37, took his life last month after pleading guilty to 18 charges related to the events of Jan. 6th. His death did not happen suddenly, in the heat of an emotional moment. Instead, Matthew was continuously troubled by the government’s over-reach within the past year. An introspective, intelligent young teacher who loved life, Matthew couldn’t understand why the Department of Justice viciously pursued citizens like him.
According to the Perna family, Matthew’s lawyer told him to plead guilty and believed he would not be able to stand trial. To make matters worse, the prosecution-led by US Assistant Attorney Nihar Mohanty- announced they would pursue additional charges against Matthew beyond the existing 18.
Matthew Perna and hundreds of others walked into the Capitol through a previously opened door and remained inside for about 20 minutes. He stayed within the ropes of the Capitol Rotunda and did not break or steal anything.
The funeral home was packed with visitors, and Matthew’s online guest book at Flynn Funeral Home continues filling up. Through this guest book, the Perna family has connected with other families who have also experienced great duress from the Department of Justice’s overzealous prosecution of predominately peaceful protesters.
“I’m not going to see another person’s family go through this,” said Matt’s aunt, Geri Perna.
“The average human couldn’t endure what Matt went through.”
Geri Perna recently spoke in front of the Capitol at a press conference held by Congressmen Louis Gohmert, Andy Biggs, and Marjorie Taylor Green.
“I agreed to come to this press conference today because I don’t want Matthew Perna’s name forgotten. There are hundreds of other people just like him standing in his shoes,” told Perna, speaking in the rain.
“Still I promise you that if something is not done to stop this evil torment that is being inflicted open those people who have not even been found guilty of a crime, more are going to make the choice Matthew made.”
You can hear more from Geri Perna at the press conference in timestamps 8:22 to 17:07 below.
Or, read her remarks here.
Matthew Perna’s life continues to be remembered. Contributions in Matt’s name to the Shenango Valley Animal Shelter– where his father is active- have been received in abundance like the staff has never seen before.
In addition, a legal fellowship has been created in Matt’s name through the Patriot Freedom Project. The purpose of this scholarship is to empower future lawyers to take bold stances advancing American civil liberties. You can find out more about the fellowship here.
In the words of concerned citizen Wendy Jacques, “We miss Matt and thank him for the gifts that he gave. We’ll always think of him, so kind, true, and brave.”
Below is her full poem written in Matt’s honor: