By Leila Katibah and Alexis Rios-Jimenez
PHILADELPHIA, PA – This past week, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office released a statement highlighting the broad support for District Attorney Larry Krasner in the face of MAGA GOP lawmakers’ “anti-democratic” efforts to impeach him—despite Krasner apparently not committing an impeachable offense.
Impeaching DA Krasner subverts the will of Philadelphia voters who elected him, as well as the growing number of elected officials, community organizers, gun violence survivors, and civic leaders supporting him, said the DA’s Office.
Pennsylvania Representative Rick Krajewski described GOP efforts to impeach DA Krasner as not about Republicans’ safety concerns, but rather an attempt by Republicans to reprimand voters for dreaming of a different system that protects Black and Brown working class communities. He claimed that the impeachment efforts are a direct result of Republicans facing massive losses this election cycle.
PA Rep. Krajewski added, “We know for years that Republicans in governing power have not actually given Philadelphians a livable wage that they deserve, a path to labor jobs that can actually provide the kind of economic stability that they deserve so that we don’t have these cycles of crimes of poverty that continue to devastate our communities. They haven’t given our schools the kind of funding and infrastructure that they deserve, given our young people an actual chance to learn.”
Jamie Gauthier, a Philadelphia City Councilmember, called the efforts by Republican politicians, who primarily live outside the city of Philadelphia, “laughable and insulting,” noting they know nothing about the communities they govern, while continuously blocking gun legislation that would keep communities safe.
Gauthier suggests Republican politicians do not have the community’s best interests at heart, as demonstrated by their efforts to control and disenfranchise the community.
Gauthier added, “You can’t feign care about gun violence in our communities and at the same time refuse to assist us with getting guns off the street. You can’t pretend to care about Black and brown people in Philadelphia while at the same time you fight us at every turn when we try to get resources for those same communities so they can truly be safe.”
City Councilmember Sharon Vaughn explained how the city cannot permit politicians from outside Philadelphia to dictate whom voters elect, adding that it is utterly foolish to believe the propaganda that DA Krasner is “setting criminals free.”
Rebecca Rhynhart, former City Controller, emphasized how DA Krasner was elected and re-elected by an overwhelming majority, and that an impeachment vote only serves to disenfranchise voters rather than address gun violence.
“Stopping gun violence needs concerted action from our leaders at the state and local level, not political actions such as this impeachment vote and trial. As leaders in this city and commonwealth, we won’t always agree, and I have been critical of some of District Attorney Krasner’s policies, but we all must work together to address the violence and crime in our city,” Rhynhart elaborated.
The Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration (CADBI), represented by Lorraine “Mrs. Dee Dee” Haw, stated “I’m a sister of a brother that was murdered by gun violence, and a mother of an only child that’s been incarcerated going on 28 years. DA Larry Krasner has done more for me than anybody that’s connected to the impeachment effort.”
Haw maintained Krasner is doing what the people asked him and voted him in to do, adding, “It’s only when he decided that he’s going to arrest corrupt police officers, that the apple fell off the tree. Nothing more, nothing less. He didn’t break any laws. I need to really let people know that if y’all kick him out, y’all kicking all of us out.”
Jerry T. Jordan, President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, denounced Republican lawmakers for having chosen “divisiveness, racism, and a willful commitment to putting their heads in the sand about real issues facing Pennsylvanians.”
In his remarks, Jordan highlighted gun violence as one of the most pivotal issues impacting not only the city of Philadelphia, but the entire nation. He also excoriated state GOP lawmakers who have sought to remove Krasner from office, saying, “This entire stunt is a desperate attempt by House Republicans to cling to one of the last bastions of power.”
Key in Jordan’s comments was his fierce determination to urge the legislature to reassess strategies on dealing with the very issues their constituency put them into office to help tackle.
Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance, Mohan Seshadri, provided the perspective of the Asian and Pacific Islander constituency, explaining the perception of District Attorney Krasner was incredibly positive in the Chinese and Vietnamese communities.
Seshadri stated, “They said that he was the first DA that they have ever seen sit down and listen to our immigrant families who are victims of crime. They said that he was the first DA who made undocumented victims of crime feel safe enough to come forward, have their voices heard, and get justice.”
Seshadri added, “With the ongoing wave of violent crime that is at an all-time high that is impacting these communities, the focus must not be on the theatrics of politics that have proven to be a significant roadblock to any type of progress that would help in any meaningful way.”
In her closing remarks, Seshadri critiqued state legislative Republicans and the damage they are doing to the institution of democracy, noting, “We’re here to protect that hope, we’re here to protect that American dream, we’re here to protect our people’s self-determination. And that means standing with democracy and standing with DA Krasner.”
Nic O’Rourke, Pennsylvania Organizing Director for Working Families Party was present to give some sobering comments on the reality that many people of color are faced with every day.
O’Rourke said, “Race is not real, but racism is. It shows up not just in face-to-face encounters with Black people, but upon those who are literally working to mitigate the harm upon Black people.”
O’Rourke went on to argue the majority of Blacks in the City of Philadelphia voted Krasner into office, for which they are now facing repercussions from those in power who have decided to engage in “this latest stunt to impeach DA Krasner.”
Most striking from the Director was his strong push back against state Republicans, asserting this entire organized “fiasco is not so much about the safety of Pennsylvanians” as it is about “stripping away the rights of any Pennsylvania community that dares to elect someone who would challenge Republicans’ dedication to ruling for the wealthy white few.”
Legislative Director for SEIU Healthcare PA, Jared Smith, leaned in on the divide between rural Republicans and the issues that impact many Philadelphians on a daily basis, hitting back at their outcry of concern over public safety as thinly veiled political attacks aimed at DA Krasner.
“If they actually cared about Philadelphia, they would be passing common sense gun reforms to get the guns off our streets. If they cared about Philadelphia, they would be protecting queer people like me from threats of violence. If they truly cared about Philadelphia, they would not be trying to disenfranchise the hundreds of thousands of voters of Philadelphia who chose Larry Krasner, not once, but twice, by a margin of two to one,” said Smith
Kris Henderson, Executive Director at Amistad Law Project explained the reasoning behind the support that has amassed around the Democratic DA, “the belief in a second chance.”
For Henderson the DA’s belief in second chances meant that “there are people who are home right now from prison who would not have been if we had a different DA.”
Another important point of note for Henderson was the feeling that the District Attorney could be trusted with ensuring greater accountability from police.
Speaking to the case involving the police officer who killed Dennis Plowden Jr., but was sentenced only to under a year, Henderson stated, “It’s not that we wanted that person to get more time because we believe that it would make him a better person. We wanted him to get more time because there’s a double standard. There are people across the city who served much, much more time than that who never killed anyone.”