Pennsylvania House Votes to Impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner

Pennsylvania House members debated passionately on Wednesday before voting to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, saying he violated his oath of office by enforcing policies that have been a direct cause of increasing crime in Philadelphia.

The next step is for the state Senate to conduct a trial, in which a two-thirds vote is required to impeach and remove Krasner.

Krasner was accused of declining to prosecute many drug, theft, and prostitution charges, and implementing bail policies that soon put violent offenders back on the street, often to offend again. Statistics show gun crimes and homicides are up. And, between Jan. 1, 2021, and Oct. 16, 2022, according to a report about Philadelphia crime, 992 died by homicide in Philadelphia.

Impeachment Painted as Racial Issue

While the impeachment investigation has been underway for months, Democrats argued that Republicans were trying to overturn the will of Philadelphia voters who twice elected Krasner, and members were now rushing to push impeachment through on the last day of the Republican-controlled House session. In the next session, for the first time in 12 years, Democrats will be in the majority.

It feels racist, Democrat House members indicated several times in their arguments against impeachment, for Republicans to say they are concerned about crime in Philadelphia, when Republicans refused to pass gun control measures like red flag laws that Democrats say could lessen violence.

“Our mayor, just a couple of weeks ago, did an executive order to say you can’t have guns on playgrounds. He was sued by a pro-gun group to stop him from actually trying to deal with the root causes of crime,” Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, a Philadelphia Democrat, argued on the House floor before the vote. “People in this body who actually represent Philadelphia care more than most about what is going on. But I find it very ironic that, a city that is often used as a punching bag in this building, a city that people usually mentioned with snide remarks … now, everybody so desperately cares about our community. I can’t believe what you say. Because I see what you have done. I see what you’ve done with the power that you have had. If we want to look at who is violating oaths of office, people in this body ought to look in the mirror.”

Rep. Jason Dawkins, a Philadelphia Democrat, said there has been a history of over-prosecuting black people; that is what Krasner is trying to address, and some people bristle at Krasner looking at this issue.

“The moment we start peeling back that onion, we start to realize there is something here that’s just not right,” Dawkins said. “The obvious to me is that this particular resolution is being led solely for one purpose: to disenfranchise those who look like me from having a say. To pick who they want to be duly elected for fairness. We should all want fairness in this commonwealth. I wouldn’t want to come to your county and tell you how to do business because it’s not my business. But I’ll tell you one thing—in a few days things will change. And when things change, Democrats will show you how to lead.”

State House Speaker Bryan Cutler, a Republican, stepped down from his post and argued on the floor.

“The district attorney is currently acting in a legislative capacity by simply declaring entire sections of law void. Non prosecutable. Will not go after that,” Cutler said. “Why is that important? Because they are the laws of the Commonwealth, duly passed, and signed into law by this chamber, the Senate, and the governor.”

In Philadelphia, the rate of dismissal of cases is much higher than all the other counties, said Cutler, adding that the high rate of people dying in Philadelphia is the business of the Legislature.

“What is going on right now in the city … does in fact, impact all of us,” Cutler said. “It is literally the heart and soul, the economic driver of our Commonwealth. That matters. It is a huge portion of the tax base. But when you have people who are fearful to go into the city to work, to recreate, to visit family… where does that leave us? Well, the Constitution is very clear, and I said it earlier—words matter. The house has sole discretion over this.”

Philadelphia shooting
Philadelphia shooting
Philadelphia police process part of a crime scene where multiple people were injured in a shooting in Philadelphia late on Nov. 5, 2022. (Elizabeth Robertson/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Skyrocketing murder rates, decreasing gun convictions, and prosecutions should be big red flags, Cutler said.

The move to impeach Krasner, House Resolution 240, was sponsored by Philadelphia Republican Martina White. The articles of impeachment were approved by a vote of 107–85.

Krasner did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but defended his record in an Oct. 21 letter.

“There are many ways to pursue public safety. In the past, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has relied almost exclusively on the blunt instrument of jail and prison, without recognizing that this approach is often ineffective and, in the long term, may make our communities more dangerous,” Krasner wrote.

“In my office, we recognize we have numerous tools in our arsenal, and we use each one to build up our community. We are proud of our work. So are Philadelphians. It is why they overwhelmingly reelected me less than a year ago.”

In that election, 7.6 percent of Philadelphia’s population showed up to vote, according to testimony Wednesday on the House Floor.

Beth Brelje

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Beth Brelje is a national, investigative journalist covering politics, wrongdoing, and the stories of everyday people facing extraordinary circumstances. Send her your story ideas: Beth.brelje@epochtimes.us

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