State, Local Lawmakers Attack ‘Politically Motivated’ Effort to Remove Progressive Philly DA – Call It ‘Stunt’

Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner

By The Vanguard Staff

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Civic leaders and elected officials rallied here Wednesday on behalf of embattled, progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner, calling the effort to remove the prosecutor from office by the Pennsylvania House “unconstitutional and politically motivated.”

Reggie Shuford, executive director, ACLU of Pennsylvania, said, “This impeachment effort is just the latest maneuver to undermine the will of Philadelphia voters. These voters used their own discretion to choose a District Attorney who pledged to reduce mass incarceration, rather than continuing the same old punitive policies that we know do not work.”

And, Mimi McKenzie, legal director, Public Interest Law Center, added, “The actions of this House committee are an assault on democracy. Larry Krasner was elected by an overwhelming majority of Philadelphia voters in a free and fair election.  As an organization that has been at the forefront in protecting voting rights in Pennsylvania, the House attempt to remove a democratically elected local official because they disagree with his criminal justice reform policies must be called out for what it is. It an effort to subvert the will of Philadelphia voters.”

“Our representative democracy is built on the foundation that the people should elect who represents them in government. That means honoring the results of a free and fair election is a sacred responsibility, especially for those who may have preferred a different outcome. There is no doubt that Larry Krasner was elected District Attorney by the voters of Philadelphia. Any effort to remove him from that elected position is at odds with the will of the voters,” argued Al Schmidt, President & CEO, Committee of Seventy.

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) President Jerry T. Jordan called the PA House action a “disgrace” that featured “disingenuous theatrics (not) real issues facing residents of this commonwealth (and) is simply reprehensible. And let’s be clear, Tuesday’s outrageous decision to hold DA Krasner in contempt was an egregious extension of an ongoing effort to wrestle control from a progressive District Attorney who is seeking to not only address the real crises we are facing in our city but to do so in a fair and equitable manner.”

Arthur Steinberg, president, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) PA, concurred, noting about the lawmakers, “Instead of advancing legislation that would make the lives of children and families better, the MAGA majority in Harrisburg wastes precious time attacking poor people, people who can get pregnant, and our public school students and educators. Book bans, bogus ‘education transparency’ bills, and Pennsylvania’s own ‘don’t say gay’ bill all have become commonplace in a legislature that gets nothing done for the working people of our Commonwealth.

“More recently, the MAGA majority has turned their focus toward undermining our democracy. Endless sham election audits, fraudulent Presidential electors, and overturning the 2020 election has become their legislative ‘platform,’ if you can even call it that. But overturning the results of the 2020 election just isn’t enough for them. Now the House majority is behind an anti-democratic effort to remove Philadelphia’s District Attorney from office, effectively overturning a free and fair election he won decisively less than one year ago.”

“Let’s be clear: Right now, one party is trying to hide their own failures,” said PA Representative Elizabeth Fiedler, adding that includes “their failures to regulate deadly weapons and to make real investments in our communities. The people of Philadelphia get to choose their own elected officials, not Harrisburg. Philly voters have spoken. One party doesn’t get to change the outcome of our elections, just like one party in DC doesn’t get to just change the outcome of the Presidential election.”

PA Senator Nikil Saval agreed, and said, “The people of Philadelphia elected, and then re-elected, District Attorney Krasner. In both instances, his victories over his opponents were resounding. A gang of well-connected Harrisburg legislators seeks to lift their political capital by robbing Philadelphians of their vital freedom to choose their elected officials. Fortunately, these opportunists have no direct jurisdiction over Philadelphia…the majority continues to squander time, energy, and public resources on this anti-democratic power grab. It is shameful. Philadelphians see through these political charades and won’t stand for them.”

PA Senator Anthony Hardy Williams said, “Philadelphians must be united in this moment of controversy. Certain issues can reasonably be debated, but we should be very careful about what’s at stake now. There is an effort to remove the duly elected District Attorney because some disagree with his policies and remain sickened, as we all are, by the current level of violence. I understand the passion, but this removal effort is flatly wrong.

“Philadelphia is the birthplace of democracy and we have to affirm our commitment to honoring democratic values. This is especially relevant for Black people who died for the right to vote. This is a moment to reflect on the history of voting rights in America. But, more importantly, it is a moment to act and stand against this attempt to deprive Philadelphians of their voice. Elections have consequences. That is democracy. We have to protect our right to be heard.”

Councilmember Cindy Bass condemned the attempt to remove Krasner, explaining, “We as elected officials took an oath to be responsible to the people—each and every one of us. If the people have concerns regarding the duties of their democratically elected officials, then they have the absolute birthright as citizens to elect someone else.

“It is inconceivable to me that someone who does not live in Philadelphia, did not vote for Larry Krasner, or any other Philadelphia elected official, somehow feels they have standing to try to kick out of office the duly elected District Attorney of a city of 1.6 million people.

“As the most populous city in the Pennsylvania, Philadelphia is the Commonwealth’s biggest revenue generator, buoying the districts of the DA’s detractors’ in Harrisburg, and providing them salaries that afford them the lifestyles and sufficient free time to put their noses in other people’s business. The people of Philadelphia will decide who their District Attorney should be.”

Jamie Gauthier, another councilmember, said, “I stand in support of District Attorney Larry Krasner, and wholeheartedly condemn the unconstitutional, partisan attacks against his office. The call for DA Krasner’s impeachment was made by three politicians who live hundreds of miles away from Philadelphia yet claim to be concerned about the gun violence in our communities.

“Even a casual observer can see that this is a thinly veiled political stunt, as these lawmakers have time and time again refused to pass common-sense gun control legislation that would promote the welfare and safety of everyday Philadelphians. These proceedings set a dangerous precedent and violate the rights of Philadelphia voters to choose who represents them in government.

“This isn’t just a matter of political impropriety—it’s an unconstitutional act. The subpoena issued by the ‘House Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order’ violates the separation of legislative and executive powers. By requesting that the DA provide grand jury testimony to the House Select Committee—notably, grand jury testimony about a police prosecution—the Committee is asking DA Krasner to break the law. That is a blatant attempt to interfere with the criminal legal process for political reasons. The fact that the legislature declined to wait for a Commonwealth Court ruling before holding DA Krasner in contempt further demonstrates the majority’s disregard for the rule of law.

“If these state lawmakers truly cared about the well-being of Philadelphians, they would end this charade and pass new laws to get guns out of young people’s hands. Instead, they waste time on political theater, while countless lives hang in the balance.”

Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson added, “Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner won the 2021 primary and general election by overwhelming majorities from voters, securing a second four-year term. It is unnecessary for the Pennsylvania Legislature to try and overturn through an impeachment process the will of the voters of the Commonwealth’s largest city.”

And, Councilmember Isaiah Thomas stated, “Harrisburg has this power to change our gun laws and make meaningful change. But they would rather spend their time with cheap political stunts than working to solve issues.  In addition to the inaction on gun laws, Harrisburg is setting a dangerous precedent to our already fragile democracy.

“By working to remove those with differing viewpoints and trying to circumvent the courts, they are using a playbook we are seeing across the country—a playbook which makes our democracy a suggestion rather than the law of the land. At a time when we should be working together to find solutions, this is an offensive use of taxpayer dollars and government time.”

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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