Supporters of District Attorney Larry Krasner spoke out Monday against the state House’s vote to impeach him, arguing that Harrisburg legislators were trying to disenfranchise Black and brown voters who favor criminal justice reform.
“This is an act of voter suppression and disenfranchisement,” Kadida Kenner, CEO of the New Pennsylvania Project, said during a news conference held in the Mayor’s Reception Hall at City Hall. “Philadelphians voted twice; Philadelphians decided twice to elect DA Larry Krasner.”
The news conference featured City Council members, faith leaders, criminal justice reform advocates and community organizers, as well as Krasner.
The state House voted largely along party lines last Wednesday to impeach the district attorney — sending the articles to the state Senate for a trial to be conducted.
House members who voted for impeachment said Krasner and his progressive policies on criminal justice reform have caused a significant increase in the city’s crime rate.
“These articles and the evidence will prove that Krasner is man who attempts to usurp the authority of the legislature, ignores people’s civil rights, dismisses victims when they’re at their most vulnerable and is incapable of training staff on basic courtroom procedures so that they can properly represent this commonwealth and their best interests,” state Rep. Martina White said after the impeachment vote.
“Philadelphia has had many Democrat district attorneys who care about achieving justice and following the rule of law and I truly hope that his successor will be that type of district attorney.”
But Krasner supporters said advocates of impeachment don’t represent Philadelphians.
“For those of you who’ve decided that you were going to go tell people overwhelmingly that our voices were wrong, that our thoughts weren’t clear … if you think for one second that you’re going to silence us then say this is a democracy … you’re sadly mistaken,” said Melissa Robbins, a Democratic activist and former WURD radio host.
“Those of you who are against the voice of the people, you will no longer represent the people.”
Krasner, who won reelection last year to a second four-year term, said his impeachment could set a precedent for future elected officials who might use impeachment for partisan purposes.
“If a process of people winning elections and then being removed by people who don’t even live there [starts] … don’t be surprised when the other team starts doing it to you,” Krasner said.
In the midst of the conference, a woman stood and accused Krasner’s office of neglecting her cries for help and protection. No one responded to the woman’s accusations before she left the conference.
The House vote to impeach Krasner was 107-85 vote, mostly along party lines. The House action sends the matter for a trial in the state Senate, which Republicans control — though not with the two-thirds majority that would be needed to convict and remove Krasner.
House Republicans last week named three managers to preside over Krasner’s impeachment case — two Republicans and one Democrat. But it is unclear whether the Senate will convene to conduct a trial before the end of the current legislative session. The Senate is currently not scheduled to reconvene for the rest of the session.
If the Senate does not hold a trial before the end of the legislative session, the articles of impeachment would have to be reintroduced in the next session, which begins in early January.
The articles would then have to be put to another vote in the state House, where Democrats are expected to hold a razor-thin majority after winning about a dozen seats in the Nov. 8 election.