Larry Krasner, the most progressive candidate in Philadelphia’s seven-way Democratic primary election for District Attorney, won the race Tuesday in what supporters call “a revolution.” Krasner ran on an unprecedented campaign to end mass incarceration and stand up for people’s civil rights and liberties.
A civil rights and criminal defense attorney, Krasner told The Intercept that “the criminal justice system systemically picks on poor people, and those people, at least in Philadelphia, are overwhelmingly black and brown people.” During his career, Krasner has sued the Philadelphia Police Department no less than 75 times.
Krasner campaigned for DA with promises to end cash bail and not to lock up non-violent arrestees who don’t pose a threat to their communities. He has also pledged “to never seek capital punishment while working to end bail policies that lock up people for being poor, an asset-forfeiture program that has been a national disgrace, and stop-and-frisk searches that disproportionately target non-whites,” observed local op-ed columnist Will Bunch for philly.com.
In campaign ads, local Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter activists—many of whom had been defended by Krasner in court—spoke out in support of Krasner’s DA campaign:
Krasner’s stances are indeed revolutionary in Philadelphia, where district attorneys and city politicians have made careers with “tough on crime” policies, stepping up criminal prosecutions, and consistently advocating for the death penalty.
As Krasner told The Intercept when asked if he felt like he was “changing sides” by running for District Attorney after having worked as a criminal defense lawyer for so long: “Philadelphia was one of those places where there was only one side to be on, because the culture in the DA’s office was drunk on the death penalty and in love with using poor people to get ahead as a politician. It was gross. It’s been gross for 30 years, so in Philly there was only one choice. But hopefully we can change that.”
Krasner’s supporters celebrated his victory. “What was that sound? Nothing less than the stirrings of a whole different kind of revolution from the city that gave America the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights,” wrote Bunch. “A revolution aimed at finally undoing draconian justice regime that had turned the Cradle of Liberty into a death-penalty capital and the poster child for mass incarceration.”
As the nation faces a frightening return to “tough on crime” policies under right-wing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, civil rights advocates outside of Philadelphia also celebrated.
Krasner will face Republican Beth Grossman in November, but his primary victory is seen as a de facto win for the office in the very Democratic-leaning city.
Cross-posted from Common Dreams