Special to the Vanguard
Philadelphia, PA – “Removing Larry Krasner from office would undermine the rule of law, democracy, and public safety,” a bipartisan group of 88 criminal justice leaders from across the country wrote in a joint statement opposing the undemocratic and partisan efforts to impeach and remove Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and urging the Pennsylvania Senate to keep him in office.
The signatories – which include current and former elected prosecutors and law enforcement leaders and former U.S. Attorneys, judges and DOJ officials – argue that DA Krasner’s impeachment and potential removal blatantly disregard the will of the voters who twice elected him and threaten public safety by undermining the legitimacy of democracy and the rule of law.
“If the Pennsylvania state legislature was truly concerned about crime in Philadelphia, they would work with the community to implement evidence-based approaches to violence prevention. Instead, their first priority in a lame duck session was to continue the baseless attacks on Larry Krasner and undermine the electoral power and choices of the residents of Philadelphia,” said Miriam Krinsky, Executive Director of Fair and Just Prosecution, the organizer of the statement. “The Senate should reject this deeply disturbing betrayal of the voters’ will and pernicious attack on democracy.”
The signatories emphasize that this effort threatens to make the community less safe by overturning the will of the voters, who last year reelected DA Krasner with nearly 70 percent of the vote: “By telling Philadelphians that their votes do not matter – that politicians in Harrisburg better understand the violence and public safety concerns members of the community experience and live among – the legislature has threatened the legitimacy of the justice system and those who work within it. And this erosion of trust in both law enforcement and the integrity of our democratic process will have potentially profound impacts on efforts to prevent, solve, and respond to serious crime in Philadelphia.”
“Protecting our democracy and the rights of voters is a public safety issue. When people believe the system not only doesn’t protect them but is deliberately working to undermine their decisions on duly elected leadership, they are understandably less likely to trust in government institutions, making it harder for those of us in law enforcement to keep our communities safe,” said Darrel Stephens, former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief and former Executive Director of the Major City Chiefs Association.
The statement also describes how supporters of the impeachment have spread misinformation about the work and impact of data-driven leaders such as Krasner, ignoring the numerous studies showing that reform DAs are not responsible for rises in crime and disregarding the unique factors that defined the past few years and likely contributed to changes in crime rates, including the pandemic and record gun sales. Neither crime increases nor decreases can be placed solely at the feet of one individual, the signatories note. And while a prosecutor’s office alone cannot create public safety, the statement highlights the ways in which DA Krasner has used his platform to reduce gun violence, with little support from many members of the state legislature.
“As an elected prosecutor, I support reform because I know it makes communities safer,” said Durham County, N.C. District Attorney Satana Deberry. “The rampant misinformation seeking to scapegoat reform DAs for crime increases has no basis in reality. Instead of playing the blame game, we need policymakers who will work with us and with those most impacted by crime to promote community safety and well-being.”
“It is unthinkable that anyone – especially those who aren’t even part of the community – would attempt to nullify voters’ choices at the ballot box simply because of political differences. That isn’t democracy, it erodes faith in the rule of law, and it certainly won’t make us any safer,” said Timothy K. Lewis, a former judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit and the U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania and former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
The signatories include locally elected prosecutors from 46 jurisdictions, Attorneys General Keith Ellison (Minnesota) and Karl Racine (District of Columbia); former Attorneys General Scott Harshbarger (Massachusetts), Jim Petro (Ohio), Stephen Rosenthal (Virginia), James Tierney (Maine) and Anthony F. Troy (Virginia); Sheriffs Jerry Clayton (Washtenaw County, Mich.), Garry L. McFadden (Mecklenburg County, N.C.) and Charmaine McGuffey (Hamilton County, Ohio); Police Chief Abdul D. Pridgen (San Leandro, Calif.); former Police Chiefs Richard Biehl (Dayton, Ohio), RaShall Brackney (Charlottesville, Va.), Joseph Carter (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and Oak Bluffs, Mass.), Brendan Cox (Albany, N.Y.), Norm Stamper (Seattle) and Darrel Stephens (Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C.); former State Supreme Court Justices Harry Lee Anstead (Florida), Bobbe J. Bridge (Washington), Emily Jane Goodman (New York) and Joseph R. Grodin (California); and former federal district and appellate court judges Nancy Gertner, Timothy K. Lewis, A. Howard Matz, Michol O’Connor and Shira A. Scheindlin.
The full statement is available here along with the list of signatories.