When Larry Krasner axed 31 seasoned prosecutors Friday night, it was swift and painful — not only for the people who lost their jobs, but also for the city as a whole. He removed, with surgical efficiency, men and women who’d given their lives and careers to protecting the people of Philadelphia.
Their offense? Dedication to victims and intolerance for criminals.
For Krasner, who spent his own life among those accused of crime, this was a reckoning foretold. He made no secret of his abhorrence for the D.A.’s Office during his professional career as a defense attorney and federal defender, and he repeated those sentiments during the campaign.
Some argue that this enmity springs from a righteous place, a conviction that former district attorneys and their assistants cared only about conviction numbers, not that quixotic and highly personal idea of justice.
After Friday’s massacre, I spoke to a few current employees of the D.A.’s Office, who were willing to discuss the office only on the condition of anonymity so that their jobs wouldn’t be threatened.
One current prosecutor I contacted spoke of an institutional homophobia, racism and sexism that permeated the office and infected discretionary decisions like whom to charge and what pleas to accept.
It is a legitimate point, and one that has been echoed by other prosecutors who see that mentality as taking its greatest toll on vulnerable communities.
But others reject that these institutional biases existed — or at least feel that blowing up an office to feed the PC Monster is self-destructive and doesn’t help the victims, past and potential, in Philadelphia.
Another current prosecutor told me that Friday was a devastating day for the District Attorney’s Office: “So many hardworking men and women who dedicated their entire lives to this office were fired without any explanation. Shortly after being sworn in, Mr. Krasner gave a speech to the entire staff. He spoke at great length about this ‘movement’ that is underway.”
That seems to be a thread in this philosophical putsch, one which Krasner is entitled to execute as the legitimate winner of a local campaign nationalized by conservative boogeyman George Soros’ money, anger at Donald Trump, police shootings and a media-fed sense that the white establishment is committing genocide against black and Latino men.
You have to hand it to Krasner: He knows how to ride a wave better than anyone since Gidget’s boyfriend, Moondoggie.
The sad part, from my perspective, is that in his push to purify the D.A.’s Office, Krasner will shift the focus away from the victims — those who never committed any crimes in their lives, petty or serious, who never blamed addiction for aggravated assault, who never blamed discrimination for theft — and will instead make the perpetrators of crimes the subject of a compassion that belongs to others.
I’m also disgusted at his lack of respect for seasoned prosecutors who might have angered him in the past, pushing back against his crusade for accused criminals with the tools of the prosecutor’s office.
As one former prosecutor noted, “The fact that he didn’t have the guts to look these ADAs in the eye and fire them himself is a disgrace. It was a cowardly move, truly pathetic. I would expect more from someone who calls himself a leader.”
There is no gentle way to eviscerate and undo the values, standards, structures and goals of a system you abhor without slicing through them in a blunt and unforgiving manner. That’s exactly what Krasner did.
Regime change is a lot of things, but polite isn’t one of them.