Crime victims have joined the fight to oust Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner in his reelection bid next month.
They are telling their stories of what they describe as Mr. Krasner’s indifference to their plight in a television ad campaign launched this week by the Protect Our Police PAC, a group of current and former law enforcement officers focused on defeating Mr. Krasner, who they say made the city less safe with his far-left criminal justice agenda.
“He cares more about the criminals than he does about the victims,” Shaki’ra Wilson-Burroughs says in one ad. Ms. Wilson-Burroughs’ brother, Sgt. Robert Wilson III, was a Philadelphia police officer gunned down in the line of duty in 2015.
Mr. Krasner, who this year failed to win the endorsement of the Philadelphia Democratic Party, is one of a handful of top prosecutors pursuing a left-wing criminal justice agenda. They took office with campaigns bankrolled by political action committees backed by billionaire liberal activist George Soros.
These prosecutors, all of whom POP PAC seeks to unseat, argue that the criminal justice system is suffused with racism and, to make amends, pledge to limit charging and sentencing of offenders.
Mr. Krasner, 60, has warned voters not to return to the “injustices of the past.”
His campaign did not respond to a request for comment about crime victims speaking out in the TV ads.
In the May 18 primary in the overwhelmingly Democratic city, Mr. Krasner will face Carlos Vega, 64, who spent 35 years as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia before becoming one of the dozens Mr. Krasner fired as soon as he took office.
“I know many local mothers whose sons were murdered and they are seeing their cases unravel,” said Maria Martinez, whose son, Brian Lawhon II, died after he was viciously beaten at a 7-Eleven in 2019. “Some guy gets off, it’s like deja vu. You think losing your child would be the hardest part, but dealing with Mr. Krasner has been just as bad.”
Police charged a 26-year-old White man with murder when Mr. Lawhon died from his injuries at a local hospital. But Ms. Martinez told The Washington Times that Mr. Krasner’s office worked hard to lower the charges to aggravated assault.
She recently learned from a friend that the case had been continued. She said that when she reached out to the assistant district attorney he acknowledged that was true.
“He said he was sorry he’d forgotten to notify me and, at the end, said sort of ‘oh, by the way, I’m not handling your case anymore,” Ms. Martinez said. “He gave me the name of a woman who I called and was told she was on vacation. That was three weeks ago. I haven’t heard a thing.”
Philadelphia is not the only city in which PACs awash in Mr. Soros’ money have spent heavily to elect left-wing prosecutors. Mr. Krasner, for example, had no prosecutorial experience when one of Mr. Soros’ myriad Truth and Justice PACs showered him with more than $1.2 million.
Before the 2017 race, no candidate for Philadelphia district attorney had spent $1 million on a campaign, records show.
Similar large amounts of money from Truth and Justice PACs backed prosecutorial bids in Los Angeles, St. Louis, Chicago and many smaller locations in at least 8 states.
In those big cities, violent crime has spiked to record levels. Violent crime also spiked across the country and in other cities.
In St. Louis, the top prosecutor funded by Mr. Soros’ PACs, Kimberly Gardner, was re-elected last November. In Los Angeles, where Mr. Soros-backed district attorney George Gascon took office in January, a recall effort led by crime victims’ families has been launched.
Another POP PAC ad that debuted this week, titled “Dangerous Policies/Deadly Consequences,” highlights how skyrocketing crime in the city has most harmed the very people Mr. Krasner claims to champion.
“Black and brown communities have suffered the most,” the ad says over a graphic highlighting violent incident rates.
In 2020, Philadelphia suffered 499 homicides, the most it had seen in 30 years, and the 2,240 people shot was a record. So far in 2021, the gun violence continues unabated, with the city’s 146 homicides as of April 15 an increase of 33% from last year.
Terri O’Connor’s husband, James, was a Philadelphia cop killed while executing a murder warrant in 2020. When Mr. Krasner tried to visit the hospital where Mr. O’Connor had been taken after his shooting, Philadelphia officers barred his way and refused to let him enter.
“He never called me,” Mrs. O’Connor told The Times.
They were high school sweethearts whose eldest son, James O’Connor V, is now a Philadelphia police officer.
The Justice Department took over her husband’s case, which Mrs. O’Connor described as an enormous improvement. But in her opinion, there should be no case because his four alleged killers had at one time all been facing charges, some of them murder, but been released because of Mr. Krasner‘s bail policies, according to former U.S. Attorney William McSwain and other critics of Mr. Krasner’s tenure.
“If Krasner doesn’t let them out my husband would still be alive,” she said.