So, Philly DA Larry Krasner has walked back his “inarticulate” remarks from earlier this week, when he said that the city wasn’t experiencing a crime crisis.
He had no choice, really. Anyone with half a brain knows that’s what this is. The fact that practically every day someone gets killed here constitutes a crime crisis and a state of emergency in and of itself. This isn’t normal. We need to stop acting like it is.
I’m sick of this dark cloud we’re under. The sound of gunshots at night has become ubiquitous in many neighborhoods. Residents shouldn’t have to hover inside their homes fearful of venturing out after dark. Homeowners shouldn’t be sleeping with loaded weapons under their pillows. People shouldn’t have to walk around skittish, worried about catching a stray bullet and becoming the next gun violence statistic. Shoppers should be able to dart into the restrooms at the Fashion District without fear of being assaulted the way that 70-year-old man was last week.
Yes, certain crime stats such as those for rape and burglary have decreased as Krasner pointed out Monday, but the fact that the city’s annual homicide tally has reached an all-time high overshadows all of that. His actual words at the news conference were: “We don’t have a crisis of lawlessness, we don’t have a crisis of crime, we don’t have a crisis of violence. ... 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 gets a lot of bad knocks, many unfairly, from those accuse him of being too lenient. Under his leadership, the DA’s office has done incredible work freeing the wrongfully convicted and pushing back against bad policing. When I first learned of his remarks — responding to a reporter who had asked whether tourists should be concerned about coming into the city — I kind of felt for him. Who hasn’t said something wrong and wished he could take it all back?
I emailed his spokesperson asking if Krasner would care to clarify his remarks. Jane Roh promptly reached out but I really wanted to talk to Krasner himself. I wound up sending a second email later that same day referencing former Mayor Michael Nutter’s blistering Inquirer op-ed on the subject, hoping he’d changed his mind. I emailed again on Thursday.
Then came word that Krasner had apologized — somewhat — saying he “recognized that some inarticulate things I said earlier this week have offended people. The message conveyed through sound bites is not at all what I meant.”
He went on to add to subtly jab at the media: “Complete answers based on data aimed at solutions to gun violence will be edited down to sound bites. It’s my job to make sure even those sound bites are careful.”
I’ll bet Nutter got to him when he wrote: “How many more Black and brown people, and others, would have to be gunned down in our streets daily to meet your definition of a ‘crisis’? How many more children and teens have to die in record numbers to capture your attention, and be considered a ‘crisis’? How many more moms, dads, spouses, and friends need to shed tears over the loss of a loved one for you to call it a ‘crisis’?”
It felt good to see someone with the receipts, as they say, take up for Philly like that.
Mayor Jim Kenney could have but when he had the chance he dodged the issue saying, he wasn’t going to “get involved in a back-and-forth between a former mayor and the DA.” Gee, thanks for nothing, Mayor.
But maybe that’s asking too much of a guy who sat blank faced as Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw skirted an Inquirer reporter’s question about whether Outlaw would become the next police commissioner in NYC if she got offered the job.
Philly is in crisis. We need city leaders to quit parsing numbers and come up with solutions to all of this lawlessness. We need that more than anything. The situation that we have right now is no way to live.