Police Abuse

Who's Laughing Now? Larry Krasner, Whose DA Candidacy Philly Police Union President Called 'Hilarious,' Wins Democratic Nomination

He's been standing up to the police union for 30 years, his campaign chair told Reason.



John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Philadelphia, called civil rights attorney Larry Krasner's candidacy for district attorney "hilarious" in February. But last night Krasner won the Democratic nomination, earning 38 percent of the vote, almost twice as much as his next nearest opponent in a 7-way race that saw a turnout 50 percent higher than 2009, the last time the contest was without an incumbent.

"I hope he has a good night," Krasner told reporters when asked if he had anything to say to McNesby after his primary victory.

Krasner's victory (in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 7 to 1) and the enthusiasm illustrated in the increased turnout represent a dramatic shift from the kind of "tough on crime" and "law and order" politics that have historically played well in Philadelphia, from Frank Rizzo to Lynne Abraham, the four-term Philly district attorney dubbed the "deadliest DA." for the frequency with which she sought the death penalty, and who left office in 2010.

Abraham's zeal for the death penalty came despite Pennsylvania executing just three people since the re-instatement of capital punishment in 1976, none of whom were prosecuted while she was DA.

The waste of resources ($2 million a year to keep 200 inmates on death row, Krasner told C.J Ciamarella in an April interview) on this kind of symbolic tough on crime hard line was one of the points made during Krasner's campaign.

Asked about whether the campaign was worried about the FOP working to defeat them in November, Mike Lee, the campaign chair, told Reason that "as citizens, we're always concerned how the FOP spends its resources to influence politics, but you can rest assured that Larry's record of standing up against the FOP for the last 30 years will continue through November and the future, were he to be elected."

Krasner's campaign hit on a range of criminal justice reform issues, including ending mass incarceration, discontinuing cash bail, reducing the use of asset forfeiture and preventing seized loot from funding the DA's office.

Krasner worked as a public defender in Philadelphia for six years, including two at the federal public defender's office, before opening a private practice focused on criminal defense and police brutality in 1993. His campaign was supported by a coalition of activists, grassroots groups, the ACLU, and other organizations, some of which he's defended.

It was also backed by Philadelphia Justice and Public Safety, a super PAC funded by Georg Soros, which spent $1.45 million on the campaign, including a massive ad buy in late April that had some of the other candidates respond with negative ads portraying Krasner as unsympathetic to crime victims.

A number of Soros-backed reform-minded district attorney's candidates have won elections in the last year or so (but not, as an earlier version of this post indicated, the prosecutor who defeated Angela Corey in Florida). Krasner dismissed questions about Soros' influence on the election.

"The reality is George Soros wasn't there 30 years ago when I came to the opinion that the death penalty was wrong, when I was representing protesters for exactly the same ideas that are part of my platform," the Democratic nominee told reporters. "No disrespect to Mr. Soros, who I have never met, or to his organization, but the bottom line is I've held these views for a long time and I've shown throughout my career that I mean them," Krasner said, calling himself "humbled, honored, and lucky" to be the Democratic nominee for DA.

"We're going to move things directly towards justice, we're going to move on more of a prevention model, " Krasner told reporters when asked how his district attorney's office might look if he wins the general electionn. "We're going to remember that the district attorney's office does not exist in isolation and that where there is unnecessary incarceration, it necessarily destroys schools, and it destroys the rehabilitation of people of the medical condition of addiction, and it destroys individual families and neighborhoods in ways that are also destructive of the economy and it goes on and it goes on."

Krasner told reporters he believed many police officers agreed with his views.

"I think everybody realizes that the vast majority of police officers in Philadelphia are really good people who got into this job because they want to do justice," Krasner said. "Like me, they hate bad police officers, and they need the backing of law enforcement to make sure that the good police officers are promoted, that the good officers have room to do their jobs, that the good police officers are safe, and that the bad police officers who endanger them and who cause there to be disrespect and a rift between police and the community are out of the way."

Among his supporters, the smart justice campaign director for ACLU said the group reached out door-to-door to 11,000 members in the city, while Lev Hirschhorn of Reclaim Philly told Reason his grassroots group, formed by Bernie Sanders volunteers after the 2016 presidential primary, knocked on 60,000 doors and talked to 12,000 voters, including 25,000 in the last four days.

At the end of his campaign, Krasner responded to the description of him as a kind of "Bernie Sanders" of Philadelphia, telling The Intercept that he did feel like "the Bernie in the race."

"Ain't nobody perfect but neither am I, so I think it's great. They stood for change from the outside," Krasner told The Intercept. "When we look back, we have to admit that the old Vermont Jewish socialist septuagenarian would have won. Because he did represent an outside perspective that got channeled in the worst way towards Donald Trump."

Hirschhorn said his group encouraged Krasner to run after he represented them when they were arrested while protesting. "We knew that this was the guy who should be the next district attorney, and we told him that, and then he ran."

The Reclaim Philly organizer also told Reason he believed Donald Trump had an influence on the election.

"People saw that Jeff Sessions was attorney general and knew that we needed something different in Philadelphia," he said. "So we voted for Larry Krasner."

The current district attorney, Seth Williams, was indicted on federal bribery and corruption charges in March.

I voted for Krasner.

NEXT: How Many Drug Offenders Benefited From the Holder Memo That Sessions Rescinded?

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  1. Seems a prosecutor who finds he doesn’t need the FOP is a dangerous thing. He might actually hold police accountable.

    Also, Philadelphia remains the third worst place in the universe. This doesn’t change that.

    1. Other two?

      1. Wart’s basement and the Reason interns’ breakroom

        1. *Warty’s

        2. Crusty’s chinchilla cage pad is off the list, huh. Is that because he finally got that dollhouse couch to fit in there and filled the rodent drink bottle with an IPA?

    2. A good joke would be to break into Fist’s house and replace all his decorations with Philly paraphenalia. A good time to do this would be when Robby is late with the PM links and Fist is furiously refreshing.

      1. A good joke would be me laughing all the way to the bank with the insurance money I would get from my place mysteriously burning down after that.

  2. We’re going to move things directly towards justice, we’re going to move on more of a prevention model

    This isn’t going to help the city. I say that as someone who knows the city and its government. It will be implemented ham-handedly and will probably lead to an increase in crime against the very communities he wants to protect.

    1. I’m not expecting any justice for “people who like sugary drinks favored by poor people”, that’s for sure.

  3. George Soros, the American Some Civil Liberties For Some People Union, and Bernie Sanders. This is like a 9.8 out of 10 on the Troll-O-Meter. Well done!

  4. I voted for Krasner.

    Oh by the way, Pennsylvania is still a closed primary state. What a complete and total fucking shocker it is that a Reason “libertarian” is a registered democrat. Nooooooot! Way to out yourself there, buddy.

    That’s assuming of course that Krayewski actually lives in Philly and didn’t bus in from outside or cast a fraudulent absentee ballot. Though neither one of those would shock me either.

    1. I probably shouldn’t respond to trolls but here I go anyway…

      Philly, like most cities, is a one party state. If you want any say in who runs things it’s gotta be in the primary. Not gonna hold that against the guy. I assure you that he lives in Philly and he has more love of freedom in his pinky than you have in your entire being

      1. Bullshit, and also go to hell, whoever you are. He’s a left liberal democrat (a registered one no less) who’s making a living as a fake libertarian, just like most of the others working at this place now.

        1. He can downplay it all he wants, but Krasner will be as crooked and biased as his previous. Once you take money from someone, you are beholden to them. Right, Soros??????????????

          1. Yep. I’ve never been a big fan of the whole idea of elected prosecutors in any locale, and I’m even less so now that the big money “progressive” creeps like Soros are trying to influence justice at the local level. Imagine for a moment if some guy like say Sheldon Adelson bought a prosecutor election for one of his stooges in Vegas. Krayewski and all the other fakers here at Reason would go ballistic, and they would have a great point.

            And it’s so laughable that this joker just completely outs himself in this piece, doing everything but screaming out “I love you George Soros, you’re my hero, go progressive democrats go!!!”, and then has the nerve to get mad when someone someone notices it and calls him out on it. Does this moron understand that this site isn’t just limited to be viewed by progressives only? What a fucking retard.

          2. Are politicians funded by Koch brothers PACs just as beholden?

  5. Sorry, better but still not good enough. But I suppose maybe baby steps are better than nothing.

    and that the bad police officers who endanger them and who cause there to be disrespect and a rift between police and the community are out of the way in jail for any crimes they committed.”

  6. Congratulations to Larry Krasner:

    Almost all of the money to pay federal, local, state, city, county, school districts, and other local government employees comes from the property taxes, sales taxes and utility bills that are paid for by the local taxpayers.

    How much money can these governments take from the taxpayers before those taxpayers move their businesses to the suburbs or to a foreign nation as required to take advantage of less expensive government and lower taxes?

    I believe that the USA needs new national federal laws that will outlaw all unions and other organizations representing employees that are working for any federal, state, county, city, school, hospital district, flood control district, and/or any other tax supported organization from financially supporting elected officials because these organizations are bankrupting our local governments.

    Public service organizations representing government employees have an unfair advantage when they are negotiating wage and benefit contracts with the same elected politicians that the same unions helped to elect with campaign contributions from union member’s dues!

    These government employee’s unions negotiate with the same elected politicians that they financially contributed money (union dues) to in the elections for the union member’s requests to have the politician vote to take more money from the taxpayers and then give that tax money to the government employees!

    1. How many of the wealth-consuming government bureaucrats and other government jobs can the wealth creating taxpayers afford to support, before the resulting higher taxes drive the taxable wealth creating businesses and their non-government jobs away to another city, state or some foreign country?

      When you count the government employee holidays, vacations, job security, retirement benefits, medical care benefits, etc. in addition to the payroll, the taxpayers are paying city employees a total of many times the pay scales that these employees are talking about!

      How much can the taxpayers afford to have confiscated from the taxpayers in the form of taxes to pay for all of the salaries and benefits for all of these government employees?

      The financial and business problems in most all local governments are a result of continued conflicts of interest associated with the incestuous relationships between the elected politicians running the local governments and the unions representing the tax-supported employees, various no-bid contracts awarded to political contributors, legal service contracts, CPA service contracts, and other contracts which have been going on for many years at all levels of government.

      1. These incestuous relationships between the government politicians/bureaucrats running the various local governments and the government employee unions have been going on for many years.

        Why should current taxpayers honor union contracts that were obtained in the past by the public employee unions who influenced previous public officials (with political contributions) to obligate current taxpayers to pay for their extravagant wages and benefits!

        I believe that the states, cities, and other local government agencies where government employee unions and other associations made political contributions to elected politicians who then agreed to expensive government union and other bureaucratic government employee elite labor contracts and then spent their government assets to satisfy those contracts should dissolve their municipal corporations and/or go bankrupt and then stop governing their cities, fire their police and their firemen, and also stop paying the salaries of their other bureaucrats and the pensions of their retired bureaucratic government workers.

        This would make the government employees interested in the economic viability of the tax supported agency where they are employed, and then maybe local government employees would stop trying to bleed their local government to death.

  7. Well, it’s pretty clear that with articles like this, reason.com has morphed into the Huffington Post or the Daily Kos. It’s no longer a site that articulates a cohesive set of libertarian principles and instead has become the sounding board for left-leaning opinions overlaid with a faux-libertarian veneer.

  8. Well, it’s pretty clear that with articles like this, reason.com has morphed into the Huffington Post or the Daily Kos. It’s no longer a site that articulates a cohesive set of libertarian principles and instead has become the sounding board for left-leaning opinions overlaid with a faux-libertarian veneer.

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