Larry Krasner is the district attorney for the city of Philadelphia. On August 14, Krasner played a role in a multi-hour standoff between several police officers and a man named Maurice Hill. The standoff left at least six police officers injured from gunshot wounds (all of them are in stable condition).
Following the standoff, Krasner applauded the work of his police force. But William McSwain, the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, argued in a subsequent press conference that Krasner was allowing a “new culture of disrespect for law enforcement” in Philadelphia. McSwain went on to say that his office would provide “some adult supervision” during the investigation of the incident.
As for Krasner, he offered up a statement in response to McSwain, per The Huffington Post,
“The U.S Attorney is not a political elected office. I’m surprised that William McSwain would seek to detract from the great collaborative work of law enforcement last night ― for which bipartisan leaders in City Hall just minutes ago had nothing but praise, and rightly so ― for his own political agenda and personal gain…I will not be part of a distraction from the serious work before law enforcement in Philadelphia, which is to fully investigate this assault on our police officers and neighbors, and to bring the perpetrator ― and any co-perpetrators ― to justice.”
Here’s what you need to know about Larry Krasner:
1. Krasner Was Elected District Attorney of Philadelphia in 2017
Krasner was elected district attorney of Philadelphia in 2017, establishing him as the city’s top prosecutor. In a speech following his victory, Krasner described his election as a promise for “transformational change” for the city in the coming year. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Krasner said, “This is what a movement looks like.”
Following his victory, fellow progressive Bernie Sanders celebrated Krasner’s election. Per The Huffington Post, he said, “At a time when Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions is pushing the Department of Justice to restart the failed ‘War on Drugs,’ it is refreshing to see voters choose a prosecutor who wants to treat addiction as an illness, not a crime, and move to end mass incarceration.”
The Huffington Post notes that Krasner’s win was that of a landslide, with the Associated Press calling the election by nine in the evening.
2. Prior to Becoming DA, Krasner Was a Practicing Civil Rights Attorney
Prior to becoming DA, Krasner served as a practicing civil rights attorney in Philadelphia for thirty years. He began as a public defender, then eventually started his own law practice in Center City, specializing in criminal defense and civil rights.
Part of Krasner’s bio, per his Krasner For DA website, reads
Larry stands up for immigration, disability and gay rights, as well as the right to free speech. He has defended, normally at no cost, protesters at RNC 2000 and DNC 2016, members of ACT UP, Black Lives Matter, Casino-Free Philadelphia, DACA Dreamers, Decarcerate PA, Earth Quaker Action Team, Heeding God’s Call, Kensington Welfare Rights Union, Occupy Philly and Reclaim Philadelphia, advocates of public school funding and opponents of the death penalty.
3. Krasner Is Known for His Criminal Justice Reform Advocacy, & Is Considered a Progressive
Krasner is known for his progressive and creative efforts to transform and reform the criminal justice system in America. As seen in the Vice feature above, Krasner is vehemently opposed to the death penalty, as well as the disproportionate numbers of people of color who are currently behind bars. As Vice notes, Krasner’s role as district attorney is unusual in that he’s never prosecuted a single case; rather, he’s only ever worked as a defense attorney, which is not the usual path that leads to a DA role.
When asked if he ever imagined he would take on this role, Krasner said, “No, I really didn’t. In fact, I did pretty much everything you can do to not be elected… like associating myself with Occupy, with Black Lives Matter.” Also noted in the Vice feature: Krasner drew more voters than any DA in recent history, largely because he campaigned not on being tough on crime, but on reversing the trend of mass incarceration that exists in Philadelphia.
Krasner said, “The ultimate goal [of the movement] is to take resources away from an exploded incarceration industry and put them into things that actually prevent crime and heal society.”
4. Krasner Grew Up in Philadelphia & Attended Stanford Law School
According to his bio, Krasner was born in 1961 in St. Louis but grew up in Philadelphia. He attended the University of Chicago as an undergraduate, then attended Stanford Law School for a graduate degree. He notes in his bio that he was able to attain these degrees through a mixture of student loans and scholarships.
During his time at Stanford Law, Krasner focused on the legal rights of indigenous people, homeless people, and “the poor.” He also notes in his biography that he received several job offers at prosecutors’ offices around the nation, but that he chose instead to become a public defender.
Krasner’s family includes his wife of over 27 years and his two sons.
5. Krasner Received Mixed Criticism for His Work in the Standoff Against Maurice Hill
Following the multi-hour standoff between many police officers and Maurice Hill, one which left six officers injured but in stable condition, Krasner was criticized for his behavior by U.S. Attorney William McSwain. However, this isn’t the first time that McSwain has criticized Krasner for being “soft on crime.”
Earlier this year, McSwain alleged that the crime rate had skyrocketed after Krasner’s win, saying in part on Fox News, “Homicides and shootings have skyrocketed, worst kinds of violent crime have gone up…mid-level crimes have also gone up but they aren’t being reported…[Krasner] has said he’s not going to prosecute them.”