Black former Philadelphia mayor blasts left-wing district attorney for ‘woke’ softness on crime

Black former Philadelphia mayor blasts left-wing district attorney for ‘woke’ softness on crime
Larry Krasner, Soros' man in Philly. (Image: Screen grab of WHYY News video, YouTube)

A black former Philadelphia mayor is blasting the city’s left-wing white district attorney, accusing him of being “woke” and of “paternalism” and “white privilege” for downplaying the plight of the city’s crime victims, most of whom are black. “I see that police and judges are trying to keep Philadelphians safe, but [district attorney Larry] Krasner is not…The city is experiencing a crisis of violence and murder.  If he can’t see that, he is unfit to serve the citizens of Philadelphia,” said former mayor Michael Nutter.

Philadelphia’s murder rate set an all-time high in 2020, and more murders occurred in Philadelphia than in bigger cities like New York or Los Angeles.

As Ed Morrissey notes, “In city after city,” progressive district attorneys “have largely surrendered to the criminals while embracing wokery, and Philadelphia has been no exception to that experience. Earlier this month…Philly DA Larry Krasner tried to jolly voters by claiming that there was no significant crime wave, which caused former Philly mayor Michael Nutter — no conservative — to erupt over his denial of the damage being done in primarily black neighborhoods.”

The Marshall Project reports that when murder spiked in Philadelphia and eight other big cities in 2020, “more than 85% of the increase took place in predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods,” so the vast majority of the people killed as a result were black or Hispanic.

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As NBC reported,

When Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s liberal district attorney, was asked this month about the city’s crime surge that includes an unprecedented 550 homicides this year, he appeared to play it down. “We don’t have a crisis of lawlessness,” Krasner said. “We don’t have a crisis of crime. We don’t have a crisis of violence.”… Michael Nutter, a former Philadelphia mayor who is African American, erupted at Krasner, accusing him of dismissing the pain of Black residents who suffer from the violence while purporting to support them. “It all goes back to supremacy, paternalism. ‘I’m woke. I’m paying attention. I spend a lot of time with Black people. Some of my best friends … ’ All that bulls—,” Nutter said in an interview.

“I think he really just wants to tear the system down and tear it apart with seemingly no idea as to how to build it back up,” Nutter said.

Nutter accused Krasner of “refusal to prioritize safety over social engineering, accusing Krasner of essentially seeking higher office over the bodies of minority crime victims,” notes Morrissey. Many violent crimes in Philadelphia are committed by criminals with long rap sheets. An “illegal Congolese alien had already racked up multiple convictions, including for sex crimes, but still hadn’t been deported and was walking” the “streets free to rape” a woman on a “Philadelphia train,” notes lawyer Ted Frank. He notes that “Keith Gibson had 29 felony arrests” and “nine convictions,” yet remained “on the streets at age 39 to murder six more people” in Philadelphia and Delaware.

But Krasner’s lenient approach is far from unusual in today’s big cities. In 2021, more than a dozen big cities in America, such as Philadelphia, set all-time records for murder, as homicides surged to record highs. Many of these cities have progressive district attorneys who are softer on crime than their predecessors. “The entire progressive-DA project banked by [left-wing financier] George Soros and others explicitly aimed at this kind of social engineering via refusals to prosecute and efforts to free prisoners on the basis of unjust outcomes,” notes Morrissey. “These progressive social-justice agendas have rendered urban areas unlivable on a scale not seen since the early 1990s, and perhaps not since the 1970s. It’s gotten so bad that it may be triggering a new round of urban flight.” George Soros’s political action committee spent $2.1 million in support of progressive candidates for district attorney in a single state, according to the Washington Post.

The New York Times reported that “murder rose by almost 30% in 2020” in America, and is still “rising.”  That was “the biggest rise in murder since the start of national record-keeping in 1960, according to data gathered by the F.B.I.” By contrast, the murder rate has been falling in most foreign countries, which (unlike the United States) have not gotten softer on crime in the past few years.

Recently-elected progressive prosecutors have vowed to cut prison sentences, by not using “sentencing enhancements” for “past felony convictions.” Progressive district attorneys such as Los Angeles’s George Gascón and San Francisco’s Chesa Boudin have also stopped charging juvenile killers as adults, meaning that 17-year-old serial killers won’t be held beyond age 25. Gascón is dismissing criminal charges against many violent juveniles, giving teens who commit robbery, arson, and sexual battery “restorative justice” (a slap on the wrist) instead of prison time.

By reducing incarceration, these new policies will cost innocent lives. Longer prison sentences deter violent crimes and theft. Crime in California fell significantly after California voters adopted Proposition 8, which mandated longer sentences for repeat offenders who kill, rape, and rob others. A National Bureau of Economic Research study found those longer sentences deterred many crimes from being committed. As it observed, three years after Proposition 8 was adopted, crimes punished with enhanced sentences had “fallen roughly 20-40 percent compared to” crimes not covered by enhanced sentences.

Yet prison sentences for murder are effectively shrinking, as more murderers have become eligible for parole due to recent changes in state laws, and rulings by progressive judges. For example, in 2020, Washington, DC’s city government passed legislation that would allow previously-convicted murderers to seek release after 15 years, if they committed their crime before age 25.

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department. Hans writes for and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” Contact him at


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