Bill McSwain, a Republican gubernatorial candidate for Pennsylvania, announced on Feb. 15 his plans to fight crime in a press conference held in Northeast Philadelphia. He promised to restore law and order as governor and said the cause of high crime rates is due to lack of prosecution.
“I am the law and order candidate for governor,” McSwain said to the crowd, “And I have a message for would-be criminals in this city: when I am governor, I am coming for you. You will either obey the law, or you will go to jail—and you will stay there for a long time.”
In 2021, Philadelphia recorded 559 homicides, the highest since the city began tracking the figure in 1960. Close to 2,000 others were shot and survived. Philadelphia has the highest violent crime rate of the ten American cities with a population greater than 1 million residents.
McSwain, a Marine veteran, served as a U.S. attorney under the Trump administration. His law and order plan to fight crime includes implementing bail reform with automatic pretrial detention for violent felonies; aggressively pursuing the death penalty for anyone convicted of killing a law enforcement officer; increasing funding for local law enforcement; hunting down violent criminals by any means necessary; and stopping sanctuary city policies and heroin injection sites.
McSwain told The Epoch Times that the high crime rate in Philadelphia is because of “the lack of prosecution.” He said, “One of the things that I’m going to do as governor, is I am going to change the state constitution so that the governor will appoint a district attorney in Philadelphia.”
Before becoming an attorney, McSwain served as a scout/sniper platoon commander in the U.S. Marine Corps.
And McSwain says gun control isn’t going to work: “One of the things that I know as a prosecutor is that a small percentage of people commit the vast majority of crime. And those small percentage of people are already people who have felony convictions on their record. And so they are precluded from owning any firearms. So gun control isn’t going to affect those people at all.”
Several dozen supporters, local business leaders, and community members joined McSwain’s press conference to support his promise to restore Philadelphia to safety. Some of them shared that they are scared to live in Philadelphia nowadays.
Anne Marie Muldoon, the event host, has run her own business Avenue Chiropractic for 30 years and has seen a drastic increase in crime in the neighborhood. She told The Epoch Times, “We have to close early at nighttime now, we have to lock our doors between clients, and we had to secure better security systems.”
“We had a patient who recently was just killed in a carjacking in a neighborhood that I grew up in. His funeral was in the church that I attended as a child for school. I’ve known his mother for almost 30 years,” Muldoon recalled about a recent victim of crime.
Another attendant, Jillian Gonzalez, a real estate agent, told The Epoch Times that she is scared to be out in the city showing houses with all the crime that’s happening right now.
“It makes everybody afraid. We’re afraid to get out in the streets to do what we need to do. And me as a young woman, going out showing houses with clients, you have to be very careful, you have to watch everybody that’s around you and keep an eye out, to make sure whether somebody is going to come and try to carjack you or kidnap you, or murder you or whatever.”
She said that a lot of other businesses have the same feelings—afraid that somebody’s going to come in and try to rob their stores or hurt them in some kind of way. Gonzalez emphasized, “This is not the way of life that we should be living here in our city.”
Carlos Vega, an attorney who had run for district attorney against Larry Krasner in the primary last May, came to support the law and order that McSwain proposed. Vega told The Epoch Times, “The root cause of the crime rate in Philadelphia now is that the prosecutor’s office is not prosecuting violent crime appropriately and successfully.” He said the government needs to successfully prosecute violent criminals and not let them back onto the streets.
About a dozen Republicans have announced their candidacy for Pennsylvania governor. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is the only Democrat running for governor.
Pennsylvania’s current governor, Tom Wolf, a Democrat, was reelected in 2018 and is not allowed to run for reelection in 2022 due to term limits.