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Fighting Back

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Fighting Back

In D.A. Larry Krasner’s city, citizens are left to protect themselves. April 6, 2022
Public safety
Politics and law

Philadelphia’s progressive district attorney Larry Krasner has let violence and mayhem run unchecked in the City of Brotherly Love. Elected on a platform of de-prosecution and decarceration, Krasner has instituted policies that have contributed to the city’s setting a new annual record for homicides, with 562 killings in 2021, and murders are still on the rise in 2022. Carjackings also have been spiking, with 224 in 2019, 409 in 2020, and 840 in 2021. Meantime, Krasner keeps letting criminals walk and has even expanded his program of non-prosecution to include firearms offenses, in the belief that such prosecutions are unjust and racially discriminatory.

But Philadelphia also has a reputation for being a tough town—from Smokin’ Joe Frazier to the Broad Street Bullies to throwing snowballs at Santa Claus. So it should come as no surprise that ordinary citizens are fighting back against armed criminals, leading to deadly confrontations.

In 2019, a carjacker tried to steal a woman’s car, with three children inside. The father of the children and two other people ran down the car when it got stuck in Philadelphia traffic, pulled the carjacker out, and beat him to death. There is no record of any charges being filed against any of the men.

In the Mayfair neighborhood last fall, three criminals tried to rob and carjack an Uber driver. The driver pulled his own gun and shot at the robbers, killing one. The police praised the driver’s bravery. The driver had a license to carry his weapon.

On March 30, two armed robbers tried to hold up a store in North Philadelphia, near the campus of Temple University. One of the store patrons pulled his own gun and shot a robber, killing him. The second robber fled. The citizen was licensed to carry the gun, and he is not expected to face charges.

In West Philadelphia this past January, a man walked out of his house to see three men trying to steal either his car or its catalytic converter. The man opened fire, killing one of the thieves. Krasner’s response was to charge the resident for carrying a gun without a license. At trial, the man’s defense will likely be some version of “Krasner left me with no choice.”

Philadelphia is not the only city with a progressive prosecutor that is running into the same problem. St. Louis, led by radical prosecutor Kim Gardner, has suffered a surge in homicides since she started her own de-prosecution regime. The city once averaged approximately six self-defense homicides per year. In 2020, there were 17 self-defense homicides in St. Louis, and 22 self-defense homicides last year. Like Philadelphians, the people of St. Louis are fighting back against violent criminals. The response in St. Louis has been to stop counting justifiable homicides in their yearly homicide totals, in some cases appearing to violate FBI reporting rules in an attempt to hide the violence in the city.

In an ordered society, law enforcement has a monopoly on the use of force, and citizens turn to the criminal-justice system for protection. In Krasner’s world, citizens are left to their own devices. Nobody wants to live in that world—which is why Philadelphia lost almost 25,000 residents last year, reversing recent gains. Philly’s current residents are fighting back, but others will surely decide that leaving is the safer option.

Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images

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