Incumbent Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and challenger Carlos Vega sparred in a very heated debate on Wednesday night. Both Democrats, the two offered competing visions on criminal justice amidst a crime wave that appears to be the worst since the 1990’s.
Even before the combination of pandemic related economic woes and nationwide riots led to a spike in homicides in just about every major metro area across the country, Philadelphia was seeing a large spike in violent crime. In 2020, 499 people were killed as a result of gun violence in the city — a 40% increase from 2019. In 2021, the situation is even more bleak. It took just 72 days for the city to record 100 homicides this year. As the summer and often deadliest months of the year approach, the city is on pace to surpass over 600 shooting deaths in 2021.
With a crisis unfolding on the ground, the Philadelphia DA race is emblematic of the current political situation of the entire country. On one hand, Larry Krasner is backed by progressive political machines. He campaigned as a “reformer” and has portrayed himself as the future.
In practice, this has meant radical overhauls in staffing and policy. On his fourth day on the job back in 2018, Krasner’s office fired 31 employees. Many of those let go were well respected and veterans of multiple administrations, while several others were prosecuting murder cases at the time of their dismissals. His office has also filed over 50 cases against police officers since 2018 via the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), though they have yet to secure a conviction.
Policy-wise, Krasner has focused on reducing prison populations, pre-trial detentions and eliminating cash bail. He is also heavy on platitudes about “systemic injustice” and referenced them repeatedly during Wednesday night’s debate. For example, when Vega — who relied heavily on statistics throughout the debate — brought up Krasner’s conviction rate in regards to gun crime, Krasner went on an ideological tangent about “driving while black.”
In short, the Philadelphia DA race is one between pragmatism and ideology. Carlos Vega is a lifelong Democrat and is in no way “conservative”, right-wing or in any way tough enough for most who vote that way. But, the fact that he is even challenging Krasner in the primary speaks to the depths of the failures of Krasner’s administration. Krasner’s short reign is already so unpopular that over 6,200 registered Republicans switched parties in order to vote in the closed Democratic Primary on May 18th.
Ultimately, ideology shouldn’t mix with the rule of law, but don’t tell that to Larry Krasner. He doesn’t view law enforcement or his office as a bulwark that protects law-abiding citizens; he views these entities as tools of oppression that need to be radically reformed. Of course Krasner and fellow ideologically aligned individuals or groups won’t ever admit this. Like any political entity, they’ll talk about how they “care” about victims and citizens who are being terrorized.
But when you cut through the BS, it’s clear that Larry Krasner’s policies are not designed to better the people of Philadelphia. Ultimately, they’re designed to elevate criminals at the expense of law-abiding citizens. Krasner and his ilk view criminals as victims of circumstance, all the time. Again, “criminal justice reform” advocates will never blatantly state this, but just look at their actions and martyrs. They are ideologically committed, not committed to keeping the streets of Philadelphia safe.
The body count validates this, as does the increasingly lawless state of the city. Just last week, residents from Queen Village organized a meeting to discuss dirt bike swarms that become a huge problem. In one instance, a video captured a dirt bike rider destroying a man’s car with a cinderblock. At one point, the aggressor appeared to grab a handgun before being stopped by other dirt bike riders.
27 year-old Gregory Stevens was arrested for the assault, who was unable to own a firearm following a 2014 robbery conviction. Stevens was out on parole when the assault took place, and was later charged in connection with a February armed robbery. On the 22nd of that month, Stevens allegedly robbed a pharmacy at gunpoint.
In January, 25 year-old Milan Loncar was shot and killed while walking his dog in Brewerytown. 20-year-old Josephus Davis was then arrested and charged with the killing. Davis was out on bail for a recent crime at the time of the murder and had a history of robbery, kidnapping and weapons charges.
In 2019, six Philadelphia police officers were shot following a standoff. The suspect, Maurice Hill, used an assault rifle and fired over 150 rounds at police before surrendering. Hill had a lengthy rap sheet and had violated his parole repeatedly. He had convictions for assault, kidnaping, making terroristic threats and a federal weapons charge that put him in state prison. At the time of the shooting, Hill was scheduled for a meeting with the parole board that following Tuesday.
Noticing a pattern here? Larry Krasner — who was the beneficiary of a $1.7 million donation from George Soros back in 2017 — is big on platitudes while the situation on the ground deteriorates. Repeat offenders who should be in prison are committing murders, cops have pulled back and general lawlessness has set in across certain areas.
What good are Krasner’s canned sound-bytes about “systemic racism” when people, the majority of them black, are being killed in record numbers?
This disconnect is a microcosm of the political situation across the entire country. On one side, we have rhetoric that makes people feel good, particularly mainstream journalists. On the other hand, we have people who want the government to provide the bare minimum, especially the justice department. They aren’t interested in platitudes aimed specifically at grabbing a headline, they care about the situation on the ground, and the situation is very bad.
Larry Krasner and other progressive DA’s are more concerned about politics than they are with actually doing the job they were elected to do. It’s not about keeping the city safe, it’s about selling an image.
Thankfully, the fact that Krasner is even being challenged is a good sign. It shows that these policies clearly aren’t supported by the people, but ultimately, that seems to matter very little. So long as mega donors like Soros can influence local races far, far away from where they live or even have business interests, the will of the people seems to carry very little weight.