Larry Krasner Wins Philly DA Race: 'This Is a Movement' for Criminal Justice Reform

The civil rights and criminal defense attorney says cops can expect to be treated fairly, just like everybody else.



A digital billboard truck with bright LED "Congratulations to Larry Krasner: Philadelphia's New District Attorney" signs on its sides was waiting at the William Way LGBT Community Center, where the Democratic District Attorney nominee was holding his election watch party, before polls had closed.

Within an hour of polls closing, however, preliminary results had made it clear Krasner was running away with the election in this overwhelmingly Democratic city.

Back in February, the president of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), John McNesby, called Larry Krasner's candidacy for district attorney "hilarious."

In May, Krasner won a 7-way race for the Democratic nomination, and tonight Krasner was elected the next chief prosecutor in Philadelphia. His campaign promised to end mass incarceration, focus on "serious crime," and protect civil rights and liberties.

I asked Krasner if he had a message for the Fraternal Order of Police or McNesby. He says it's the same message he has for all members of law enforcement and for people not in law enforcement as well: "You're going to be treated fairly, you're going to be treated in an even-handed way, and you're also going to be [held] accountable, and if that's not good enough for you, maybe you should examine your own version of fair."

Krasner prevailed over his Republican opponent, Beth Grossman, who earned the endorsement of the Philly FOP (which had previously endorsed one of Krasner's Democratic primary opponents) as well as a state police and a state liquor board FOP, as well as the city's largest newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The crowd at the William Way center let out a cheer as Krasner, the former civil rights attorney who has been a thorn in the side of bad cops for more than twenty years, took the stage a few minutes after the Associated Press called the election for him.

During his victory speech, Krasner asked the audience to call out what they believed the election provided a mandate for. The answers came: justice, equal rights, ending mass incarceration, cash bail. "This is the problem with equality, right?" Krasner joked.

"This is a mandate for a movement that is loudly telling government what it wants," Krasner said, "and what it wants is criminal justice reform and what that requires is transformational change within the Philadelphia district attorney's office."

Krasner told reporters after his speech that his first priority when he takes office will be to seek "cultural change" at the DA's office.

Some traditional Democrats were concerned about the kind of district attorney Krasner could be, and the Democratic city controller nominee, the other citywide office up for election, won by an even wider margin than Krasner.

Writing at The Philadelphia Citizen, Charles Ellison explained the only reason he wanted Krasner to win was because he was a Democrat. Ellison worried Krasner placed "too much emphasis on reform" and that he hadn't answered a question likely voters in the DA race had: "How are you going to keep me, my neighborhood and my family safe?"

In the end, it didn't matter. Krasner won by nearly 50 percent.

"What that says to me is this movement is not going away," Krasner said in his victory speech.

Krasner says the turnout for him was largely thanks to reaching out not only to residents who vote reliably but also focusing on residents who don't.

I asked Krasner about the difficulty prosecutors often have securing convictions against police officers, bringing up this week's case of NYPD officer Wayne Isaacs, who shot an unarmed man during a road rage incident, and what kind of systemic changes might be needed.

"I believe that Philadelphia juries are capable of doing things that are fair in this type of case, meaning a case where there is evidence that may indicate a crime by law enforcement," Krasner explained. "I think we just haven't had the will for decades in this DA's office to be even-handed and fair when it came to investigating cases where there was potential for charges against police."

"So I don't think it's that complicated," he continued. "I think with fair juries and with a prosecutor who's got one standard of justice instead of the one that suits his political ambitions, we should do fine."

The last elected District Attorney, Seth Williams, was sentenced to a 5 year bid on multiple bribery convictions last month.

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  1. “The civil rights and criminal defense attorney says cops can expect to be treated fairly, just like everybody else.”

    I suspect they may be worrisome to cops if everybody else isn’t treated fairly.

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  2. Elections are supposed to make one hopeful. Of all the results Tuesday, this is the only one that has this quasi-cynic thinking maybe hope is still a real thing in politics, and god willing, the justice system.

  3. Ed, I applaud the sentiment but await the result.

  4. Cops and the establishment news media don’t want reform. They want cops to get away with murder.

    1. Another Left Wing troll. Thanks for dropping by.

  5. Prosecutors, cops, and judges are all on the same team. That’s why cops get away with murder. Professional courtesy.

  6. I logged in this morning to see what the daily nutpunch was going to be and here’s a ……. whatever the opposite of a nutpunch is. Nice!

    1. I think it’s fondling.

    2. A rub and tug?

    3. Oh, oh, oh, a blow and go?

  7. Alternately, – the fed should stop allowing deductibility of state taxes. Low tax states end up effectively subsidizing high tax states.

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  8. Cautiously optimistic. I hope incidences will be dealt with fairly. However too many times these “culture changes” swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction. Perhaps Philly cops should be worried and Philly criminals should be encouraged.

    1. And many principled people who are not loyalists to party share your cautious skepticism. A valid concern, which tests the principles of the elected.

    2. Philly cops are impervious to reform.

      They will just become better at hiding who the cop was that administered the beating/street justice.

      Who can forget the video of 20 Philly cops, including supervisors, beating and kicking a suspect while a news chopper filmed the whole thing. The cops were not concerned that their actions would cause them any trouble.

  9. Criminal justice reform is an area where the libertarian minded can work with the few true liberals in the Democratic party.

    1. this sentiment was never really contentious, and still isn’t. The notion that IS questionable is that there actually still ARE any true liberals remaining in the Democrat Party

      1. Indeed. The establishment Dem party (which now includes the campus left) is in a liberal crisis, as they attempt to regulate speech both on the internet (“if you don’t do something we will”) and at public universities, where the students appeal to authority to oppress speech. That’s aside from the illiberal-minded Title 9 “preponderance of evidence” standard and other means to bypass due process.

        I’m not optimistic, and this election could let the Democrats run with these ideas. A Libertarian alliance would have to exclude a lot of Democrats and leftists who are diametrically opposed to American Constitutional liberties.

        1. Yeah. Exclusion’s not so bad though. It might break up the groups with intrinsically divergent ideals — this should happen regardless. Everybody trying to pigeonhole themselves into one of two parties is already a false dichotomy in action. If the democrats were to split, and the republicans were to split, I think it would be a net gain for everybody.

  10. A couple criminal justice reform positives to take away from Tues. This win in Philly, and the failure of Ed Gillespie’s laughably awful hysteria campaign.

  11. Writing at The Philadelphia Citizen, Charles Ellison explained the only reason he wanted Krasner to win was because he was a Democrat.

    Philadelphia politics in a nutshell.

    1. Entire countries politics in a nutshell. The RNC wanted all the candidates to sign a loyalty pledge saying

      “I ______ affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for president of the United States, I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is,”

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