Krasner supporters pack Philly church after Pa. House contempt vote: ‘We are supporting democracy’

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner addresses supporters at Mother Bethel AME Church

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner addresses supporters at Mother Bethel AME Church on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Philadelphia political and religious leaders gathered Wednesday night at Mother Bethel AME Church in a show of support for District Attorney Larry Krasner.

The rally came a day after the Pennsylvania state House voted to hold him in contempt for failing to comply with the subpoena of the House Committee on Restoring Law and Order. The committee is operating in tandem with a Republican-led effort to impeach Krasner.

Among his supporters was Power Interfaith’s Bishop Dwayne Royster, who said the DA is a symbol of how Philadelphia is being treated in Harrisburg.

“Our district attorney is under attack. And it’s not just about our district attorney. It is about Black and brown folks having control of the economy in the city of Philadelphia,” Royster said. “If you want to know the truth about the economy of the state of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania can’t survive without Philadelphia.”

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Jerry Jordan, head of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said Krasner is doing the job he was elected to do and that there is no way he should be impeached.

“We elected Larry Krasner to be the district attorney, we’re going to support because when we support Larry Krasner we are supporting democracy,” Jordan said.

Even though many Democrats joined the House vote to hold Krasner in contempt, state Sen. Vincent Hughes said the impeachment effort is politically motivated.

“Let’s be clear right now, one party is trying to hide their own failures, their failure to regulate deadly weapons, and to make real investments in our communities,” Hughes said.

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The House voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday in favor of the contempt resolution, 162 to 38. The resolution says Krasner showed “willful refusal” on multiple occasions to comply with the subpoena requesting materials related to Philadelphia’s rising crime rates.

Defense attorney and civil rights activist Michael Coard wasn’t on the speakers list, but felt he had to add to the DA’s praises.

“This is a fight against fascism and we want to make sure when we fight that fight we fight to win,” Coard said.

State Sen. Sharif Street also spoke out about his colleagues in Harrisburg.

“To try and overturn the rule and the vote and the decisions of the people is violative of the United States Constitution, and if my colleagues want to proceed with that, specifically the Republican House Caucus is out of order,” Street said. “We will not let them take away our right to vote.”

Krasner spoke last, saying Republicans want progressive Democrats out because “they cannot win free and fair elections.”

“The reason that this is going on is because our opponents know that reform prosecution is on the rise, that traditional prosecution will not survive if the people’s voices are heard and if their votes are counted,” Krasner said. “That’s why they want to erase your votes.”

Krasner declined to speak to reporters earlier Wednesday at a press conference on abortion rights, ducking into his car and referring reporters to speak to him at the rally instead.

The impeachment process could take months, with a trial in the state House if a majority of members voted in favor. After trial, a two-thirds vote by the state Senate would be needed to remove Krasner from office. That means 34 of the 50 members of the Senate would have to vote guilty, a high number considering there are only 28 Republicans, with 21 Democrats and one Independent.

Such a vote would almost certainly be challenged in court.

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