Pennsylvania House Republicans Initiate Process To Impeach DA Larry Krasner: 'Widespread Lawlessness In The City Of Philadelphia'
HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – Pennsylvania House Republicans have initiated the process to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner due to what they call "unchecked crime." Three House Republican members from Western Pennsylvania -- Reps. Josh Kail, Torren Ecker, and Tim O'Neal -- say they have been drafting articles of impeachment involving Philadelphia's DA since the South Street mass shooting.
Last week, three people were killed and 11 were injured in a shooting on Philadelphia's popular South Street. This was the "final straw" in their decision to seek impeachment.
Many people agree Philly has a crime problem.
The group of Republican lawmakers calling for the impeachment of Philly's DA is not from Philadelphia, not even its suburbs, but they insist they know what's right for Philadelphia.
"We are here to announce articles of impeachment against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner," Kail said.
Mispronouncing DA Larry Krasner's name and speaking from Harrisburg, a group of lawmakers from Western Pennsylvania announced they are circulating a co-sponsorship memo for supporters of articles of impeachment and believe it will receive bipartisan support.
"We fully anticipate this to be a bipartisan effort. We fully anticipate to gather quite a bit of support amongst this effort because quite honestly the dereliction of duty and the failure of Larry Krasner is well known across the commonwealth," Kail said.
While explaining what motivated them to start this process, one of the lawmakers incorrectly referred to the South Street shooting as the "south side shooting."
"This came to head two weekends ago during the south side shooting," State Rep. Torren Ecker said.
While the group did not show a specific incident resulting from Krasner's policies, they insist Philly's DA is not enforcing laws, which they claim leads to a spike in crime.
"Across the country, people are standing up to unchecked and uncontrolled violence and lawlessness allowed because of radical politicians in district attorneys' offices, like Larry Krasner," he said. "Just last week, city businesses said they are thinking of relocating because of spikes in crime. Philadelphia is Pennsylvania's major economic engine, a tourist attraction, and the birthplace of our freedoms. If unchecked crime is keeping businesses and tourists from visiting and locating in Philadelphia, it impacts Pennsylvania as a whole."
Ecker says "it's widespread lawlessness in the City of Philadelphia."
"Lives have been lost, property has been destroyed, and families have been crushed," Kail said. "Enough is enough."
They say the decision to begin the proceedings to impeach Krasner did not come overnight.
"We did not arrive at this decision lightly or easily. In fact, we are taking this action after we have taken significant steps to pass legislation that addresses violent crime in Philadelphia by ensuring our current laws are enforced," Kail said. "We are starting this process now because the unchecked violent crime in Philadelphia has reached a breaking point due to the willful refusal by District Attorney Krasner to enforce existing laws."
CBS3 spoke to Krasner on Monday.
"How do you respond to the criticism? Well, here's a couple facts. We are all obviously very concerned about public safety and we should be, but the question is do you want to fix it or do you want to go back in time to everything that got us here?" Krasner said.
Krasner is not the first progressive district attorney to face the possibility of being forced out of office. San Franciso voters ousted their liberal DA, Chesa Boudin, last week in a recall election.
"Guess what? Larry Krasner is the original Chesa Boudin," O'Neal said.
Eyewitness News reached out to lawmakers in the Philadelphia region about whether they support the move.
Rep. Martina White of Northeast Philly, who co-sponsored the articles, says: "In my view, the lawlessness in Philadelphia has been exasperated by the intentional lack of adequate prosecution by and under Krasner's direction."
Others are not in favor. Rep. Joanna McClinton says, in part: "For the first time in decades, we have an opportunity to debate and pass sensible gun safety measures that are popular with Pennsylvanians, and instead the House GOP has offered a disingenuous 'plan' to distract from their own refusal to lead."
Rep. Stephen Kinsey says "instead of holding policy hearings and hearing directly from the people most impacted or working with city leaders as well as leaders of the PA Philly Delegation to address gun violence, they choose to bring forth legislation to impeach DA Larry Krasner."
As for what's next, if the articles are officially introduced...
"There would be an investigation and debate in the Pennsylvania House and then there would be a vote. And if by a majority vote they were to impeach him, it would then move over to the Senate where there would be a trial," said Patrick Christmas with the Committee of Seventy.
Christmas says this long process could take months and it's highly unlikely that Krasner would ultimately be removed.
"And the votes would not be there, as far as I could tell, to actually remove him from office if that is the real objective of this announcement," Christmas said.
Store owners CBS3 spoke with along South Street point out voters elected Krasner into office twice, both times with large majorities.
"It shouldn't fall on him," PLR Lashes owner Aisha Johnson said. "I like him. I think he's excellent."
Others add the group of lawmakers are playing the blame game over the South Street shooting.
"You can't put that on one man, that it's your fault the shooting happened. Let's be honest. It's certain individuals," Wardrobe store owner Chris Sconey said.
On Tuesday, there will be a press conference with other local state representatives, including Malcolm Kenyatta, who plan to defend Krasner.
CBS3's Matt Petrillo and Kerri Corrado contributed to this report.
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