Now That Larry Krasner’s Apologized, Will the Pols Who Flogged Him Do Something About Gun Violence?
Where was all the gun violence outrage before the DA put his foot in his mouth? And what will all those who came for his head do now?
There was ignorance, backlash, backpedaling, and finally, shame.
Last week during a press conference, District Attorney Larry Krasner made the ignorant decision to try to challenge the notion that the city is in crisis due to a record-breaking homicide rate this year.
“We don’t have a crisis of lawlessness. We don’t have a crisis of crime. We don’t have a crisis of violence,” Krasner said at his weekly news briefing, while adding that violent crime without guns has decreased. “It’s important that we don’t let this become mushy and bleed into the notion that there is some kind of big spike in crime.”
Faster than a speeding bullet, the backlash came. Everyone from Republicans to former Democratic mayors to disgraced former elected officials had choice words for a district attorney many had already criticized for appearing soft on crime.
In a scorching op-ed for the Inquirer, former mayor Michael Nutter wrote that Krasner’s remarks were “the worst, most ignorant, and most insulting comments I have ever heard spoken by an elected official” and demanded that he “publicly apologize to the 521 families of dead victims and the thousands of those maimed by gun wounds this year.”
“He sold a false choice and a false narrative to the public that the way to fix the criminal justice system is only to address the racism,” Williams said. “No, we have to do that. But simultaneously, we have to promote and ensure public safety.”
At this point, Krasner decided to backpedal (not apologize) on his controversial remarks.
“I know that some inarticulate things I said earlier this week have offended people,” Krasner said last Thursday. “The message conveyed through media sound bites is not at all what I meant. Complete answers based on data aimed at solutions to gun violence will be edited down to sound bites. It’s my job to make sure even those sound bites are careful. As someone whose strong support is owed in part to the fact that I don’t communicate or make decisions like a career politician, it is my obligation to do better.”
Sure, Larry, blame it on the media.
On Monday, the shame finally got to Krasner as he emotionally apologized before community activists and political allies at a press conference.
“My words unintentionally hurt people,” Krasner said. “It was never what I wanted to do. It’s not the work we do every day. It’s not the work we will do the rest of today. But I know those words were the wrong ones. I chose them. They came out of my mouth. This is on me. I accept responsibility for that, I own that, because I failed in not acknowledging that pain and suffering.”
For some candidates and politicos, it wasn’t enough — and they took the opportunity to take more shots at the DA:
Empty words from a DA who should step down so that trust and lawful behavior can be restored in our great city. https://t.co/rlj0XNgNCI
— Kevin M. Baumlin, M.D (@DrBaumlinforPA) December 13, 2021
The most insincere, fake “apology” ever. @DA_LarryKrasner, your crocodile tears do nothing for the families who lost loved ones because of your failed policies and utter indifference to victims. https://t.co/gOlMID5unC
— Bill McSwain (@McSwainPA) December 14, 2021
So @Jane_Roh – after 524 homicides with the DA leading prosecution & investigation of crime – you’re asking why the media isn’t going after Chambers of Commerce? Take some #accountability and responsibility for #GunViolence instead of blaming everyone else. @markkellytyler https://t.co/DurnV8rP2C
— Jabari Jones (@RealJabariJones) December 13, 2021
But the larger question is: Where was all of this collective outrage about our gun-violence crisis before Larry Krasner’s comments?
Yes, what Krasner said was dead wrong, but his words revealed something true: It’s possible to believe there’s no gun-violence crisis, because many of our politicians, disgraced and former, haven’t responded for a while. There’s been more blow-by-blow coverage of public figures condemning what the District Attorney has said than of the crisis itself. A true moment of accountability was lost to politicians seeking public vengeance against a political adversary.
Comments from former DA Williams are hollow, given that he had to exit that post in disgrace. Nutter, who has made his own tone-deaf proclamations on crime, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to kick a dead horse that wasn’t his. And of course, all of the Republicans, law-and-order Trumpers, and police-adoring moderates couldn’t wait to pounce on a “gotcha” moment for a DA they never liked in the first place.
Before coming for Krasner, where was this choir of concerned voices?
Where were they last Friday when cameras were rolling as Philadelphia public-school students held an anti-gun violence demonstration outside of City Hall? Why was this the first time some of these critics chose to write op-eds or do callouts in our newspaper of record? Now that Krasner has apologized, what are they proposing to do?
Regardless of Krasner’s misstep, the most powerful individuals in our city should be talking less and doing more when it comes to addressing the real problem in the room: gun violence, not their political foe.