Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner on Monday pushed back on the notion that the city is gripped by a violent crime crisis, despite a record number of homicides in what has become the most deadly year in its history.
Krasner insisted that while gun violence is up, other violent crime categories are down.
“We don’t have a crisis of lawlessness, we don’t have a crisis of crime, we don’t have a crisis of violence,” the district attorney said at his weekly news briefing in South Philadelphia, noting that violent crimes committed without guns are down. “It’s important that we don’t let this become mushy and bleed into the notion that there is some kind of big spike in crime.”
Krasner, who won a second four-year term last month, launched into the retort after being asked by a reporter if tourists should be wary of coming into the city for the holidays, given the record number of killings.
“No, they should not,” he said. “They should come into the city of Philadelphia, they should enjoy every wonderful thing this city offers, in terms of shopping, in terms of staying overnight, in terms dining out, in terms of walking around with their kids, wearing their mittens, they should enjoy all of that.”
As of Monday morning, the city had recorded 521 homicides, up from 462 at this time last year, according to the police department. Shooting incidents are up 4.4% while robberies with guns are up 24.7%.
But other robberies are down 13.8%, rapes are down 11%; aggravated assaults are down 7.1%. And while household burglaries are up 1%, commercial burglaries are down 55.1%, according to the police department.
Krasner said it was important to recognize the distinctions between rising gun violence and all other violent crimes.
“A rape without a gun is not gun violence — it is truly a terrible crime that’s right up there at the level of homicide; a robbery in which someone hits you in the head with a rock is a terrible violent crime, but it’s not gun violence,” he said. “And it’s very important if we want to fix things that we’re specific and we’re careful at diagnosing the problem.”
The prosecutor criticized news organizations for what he believes is the conflation of the two.
“I understand that there is a long tradition in journalism of reporting around terrible crimes and, frankly, selling newspapers off of it, selling clicks, selling newspaper coverage,” Krasner said. “But we all have to resort to the truth. We all have know what we’re talking about.”
Leroy Muhammad, a founder of community groups the Black Male Community Council, Philly Truce and the Philadelphia chapter of 10 Thousand Fearless, said he agrees with Krasner, although that shouldn’t diminish the focus on solutions.
“What he said is factual. Our concern has been, and will continue to be, what needs to happen to bring about a cessation in violence all together? Gun violence is up, but all forms of violence is a problem and something that I’m against,” he said in an interview. “Someone being sucker-punched is too much. There are so many people who are traumatized by being assaulted in the streets.”
Stanley Crawford, who cofounded the Families of Unsolved Murder Victims Project shortly after his son was slain in 2018, said Krasner should be “ashamed” of himself for making the distinction between gun crime and other offenses. .
“How insensitive must you be to make a statement like that when you know how many people have been shot and murdered and the arrest rate is atrocious,” Crawford said.
“There’s been 521 murders and the year isn’t even done yet. We had a pregnant woman shot in the stomach to kill the baby before it got out of the womb; we had a 14-year-old-boy shot 18 times coming home from school; you got a 67-year-old a man driving by Lincoln High School shot in the head and killed,” Crawford said. “I can’t believe that he said that.”