Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner claimed that his office will charge federal law enforcement officers with criminal offenses if they unlawfully assault or unlawfully arrest anyone in the city, which has seen an uptick in crime and shootings in recent years.
In a statement this week, Krasner, a Democrat, suggested that President Donald Trump’s administration is engaging in fascist practices by deploying federal law enforcement to make arrests.
Trump, in comments at the White House, announced that federal officers would be deployed in Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico, to combat a rise in crime. Previously, the administration sent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officers and other federal agents in response to attacks by demonstrators against a Portland federal courthouse, drawing condemnation from various Democratic officials in the city and in Oregon.
“My dad volunteered and served in World War II to fight fascism, like most of my uncles, so we would not have an American president brutalizing and kidnapping Americans for exercising their constitutional rights and trying to make America a better place, which is what patriots do,” Krasner said in his statement.
Krasner said that “anyone, including federal law enforcement, who unlawfully assaults and kidnaps people will face criminal charges from my office.”
“At trial, they will face a Philadelphia jury,” the district attorney continued. “It’s the least we can do to honor those who fought fascism, including those who are fighting it even now.”
Trump didn’t mention Philadelphia in his announcement on Wednesday, but two days before that, he told reporters in a news conference that Philadelphia could see federal forces.
He cited a rise in crime and shootings as the reason why, while administration officials such as DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf have sought to contrast sending agents to crime-beset cities like Chicago and Philadelphia and Portland, which have seen many consecutive days of protests, violence, and unrest.
“I’m going to do something, that I can tell you,” Trump told reporters on Monday. “We’re not going to let New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia and Detroit and Baltimore and all of these … Oakland is a mess. We’re not going to let this happen in our country. All run by liberal Democrats.”
Trump and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a Democrat, also agreed to send federal officers into the city as shootings have risen.
Crime on the Rise in Philly
A report in early July from the Philadelphia Inquirer, citing police data, revealed that shootings in the city have surged. More than 880 people have been shot so far in 2020, which is an increase from 27 percent over the previous year, the report found.
It came after an especially large outburst of violence on July 5 when 23 people were shot in a 24-hour period.
Even before the death of George Floyd, as well as associated protests and calls to defund the police, Philadelphia’s crime rate was already on the rise. In a local news report in April, the murder rate in the city was already at its highest point in more than a decade after 106 people were shot.
Krasner’s office has not responded to a request for comment.