DA Larry Krasner rallies support after impeachment

Larry Krasner
District Attorney Larry Krasner speaks Monday, Nov. 21, at a City Hall news conference with supporters.
Jack Tomczuk

Elected officials, religious leaders, activists and others showed up Monday afternoon at City Hall to passionately defend recently impeached District Attorney Larry Krasner.

“We know that this is really about disenfranchisement and control,” City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier said of the Republican-led effort to remove the city’s top prosecutor.

Many who spoke at the event, a news conference-turned-rally, characterized the impeachment as a move to strip away the rights of Black voters and questioned why GOP leaders in Harrisburg have not invested more in Philadelphia schools or allowed the city to implement tougher gun laws.

“The only reason they are messing with Larry is because he supports Black and brown folks,” said the Rev. Robert Collier, leader of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity.

The GOP-controlled Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted to impeach Krasner last Wednesday in a 107-85 vote, with nearly all Republicans supporting the measure and all Democrats in opposition.

Krasner will remain in office unless convicted by a two-thirds vote in the state Senate. Currently, the GOP holds a 29-21 advantage in the chamber, and Democrats will gain one seat when newly elected representatives are sworn in in January.

The timing of Krasner’s trial remained unclear Monday, though Republican leaders are expected to call lawmakers back before the end of the month to begin the process.

“There has been a very, very serious effort, not only to erase votes and to silence people, but to silence me,” Krasner said at the news conference. “Before that trial starts, you are going to hear what we have to say about these supposed articles of impeachment.”

State Rep. Rick Krajewski, a Democrat from West Philadelphia, said Republicans are “trying to reprimand us” for reforming the criminal justice system. He added: “This is not about the actual safety of Philadelphia.”

State Rep. Rick Krajewski speaks Monday, Nov. 21, at a City Hall news conference in support of District Attorney Larry Krasner.Jack Tomczuk

Krasner said reform-minded prosecutors with similar goals have been elected across the country, and he argued that support for the movement to end mass incarceration is growing.

“We wanted criminal justice reform,” activist Melissa Robbins said. “We wanted my brothers and sisters to come home. We did not want to see the continued caging of Black and brown people.”

Krasner has been elected twice — most recently last year, when he scored landslide victories in the primary and general election over opponents who characterize him as “soft on crime.”

Removing him from office, Krasner said, would set a dangerous precedent and threaten democracy.

“If it succeeds here, are you really electing your next mayor?” Krasner said. “And is Pittsburgh really electing its next mayor?”

GOP Reps. Craig Williams and Tim Bonner, and Northeast Philadelphia Democratic Rep. Jared Solomon will present the seven charges to the Senate, House Speaker Bryan Cutler announced Friday.

City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier speaks Monday, Nov. 21.Jack Tomczuk

Republicans have said the charges against Krasner rely on a clause in the Pennsylvania Constitution that gives lawmakers the power to impeach elected officials for “any misbehavior in office.”

Chief among the allegations is that Krasner’s progressive policies have directly led to a spike in crime in Philadelphia.

The articles of impeachment also accuse Krasner of not fulfilling his role by declining to prosecute prostitution, minor theft and marijuana possession cases to the fullest extent of the law and violating the rights of crime victims and their families.

Three specific cases are cited in the charges, involving former Philadelphia Police Officer Ryan Pownall, convicted murderer Robert Wharton and Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is imprisoned for the 1981 homicide of police officer Daniel Faulkner.

Krasner’s office acted inappropriately in the handling of those matters, according to the impeachment resolution.

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