Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner entered the fray between Malcolm Jenkins and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 president John McNesby on Thursday, praising the Eagles safety’s Inquirer op-ed column on the selection of a new city police commissioner while saying that the police union president has “embarrassed us again.”
During a news conference about the district attorney’s new artist-in-residence, Krasner launched into an impassioned speech on Jenkins’ commentary on “broken windows policing, stop-and-frisk practices, and the War on Drugs," adding that the football star “has a right to speak out about issues he’s passionate about," and “certainly has a right to hold public officials accountable.”
“We have some people, like Malcolm Jenkins, who want to take us up and forward, and we have others — and unfortunately John McNesby is an example of this — who want to take us down and backward," Krasner said. "And the city of Philadelphia knows which ones of those types of people we need to stand with them.”
This isn’t the first time Krasner and the police union have been at odds. This week, Common Pleas Court filed an opinion upholding the dismissal of a lawsuit filed in 2018 by the police union against the district attorney, claiming that a list of allegedly tainted cops maintained by Krasner to keep them from testifying in court violated their constitutional rights.
Published Monday in The Inquirer, Jenkins’ op-ed called on Mayor Jim Kenney to listen to Philadelphians before choosing a new police commissioner, specifically calling for a leader who will “fight back against the police union."
That drew ire from McNesby, who posted a letter to the FOP lodge Twitter account calling the Eagles safety a “nonresident, washed-up football player” whose proposals “would leave Philadelphia’s many crime victims as defenseless as his poor play has left his football team.”
McNesby’s letter also blasted The Inquirer as “sponsoring the racist attack.”
At Thursday’s news conference, Krasner said Jenkins, who has an address in the city’s Northern Liberties section, did not insult the city’s cops, but “elevated them by elevating the standard for the Philadelphia Police Department."
“Sometimes you’ve got to knock the bad ones out of the way to elevate the good ones,” Krasner said. “I stand with Malcolm Jenkins, and I think nearly all of Philadelphia stands with Malcolm Jenkins, and they should.”
McNesby said the district attorney “is obviously deflecting the hits he’s taking in his office."
“Larry’s bad for the city," he added. "Anyone with their head on their shoulders can see that.”
Krasner isn’t the only city official who has voiced support for Jenkins, an activist for criminal justice reform, this week.
On Tuesday, Mayor Jim Kenney told CBS3 that the football player “has every right to give us some direction and make suggestions, and we’ve been listening to the community the whole time.”
And at a City Council meeting Thursday, Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker commended Jenkins, saying he “used [his] celebrity to help our people.”
Reggie Shuford, director of the Pennsylvania ACLU, said in a statement Thursday that Jenkins raised concerns shared by others across the city on matters like stop-and-frisk, racism in the ranks, and officer accountability.
“Malcolm is reflecting what we all want — change in the Philadelphia Police Department,” Shuford’s statement said.
McNesby said Thursday he stands by his letter.
“I don’t see backlash, I see a lot of fake screen names tweeting at me.... But most of all our members, I’m getting thank-you’s from everybody," he said.
Staff photographer Heather Khalifa contributed to this article.