Many people across the nation watched the hours-long standoff and shooting of Philadelphia Police Officers on TV. Nine officers were injured and six were wounded by gunfire. Thankfully, no officers were killed, and the gunman finally surrendered.
The following day I spoke to a Philly cop who had been on the scene. He scoffed at the idea of Philadelphia Mayor James Kenny and Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner arriving at the hospital to visit the injured cops. He called the two “anti-cop liberals.”
“Don’t they know cops hate them?” the officer said. “All Kenny cares about is illegal immigrants and all Krasner cares about is criminals. But I guess they couldn’t pass up an opportunity to be on TV and horn in on the cops’ heroism.”
The officer also said that some of the people in the Tioga-Nicetown section of Philadelphia weren’t very nice to the cops. While officers were under fire, a group of nearby neighbors taunted other officers, tossed items at them, shoved them, laughed at them and recorded the scene on their phones.
These events occurred only days after Attorney General William Barr spoke at the Grand Lodge Fraternal Order of Police’s 64th National Biennial Conference and commented on what he called “the spectacle of prancing punks pelting New York police officers with water and plastic buckets.” Unfortunately, he said, these were not isolated events.
“From 2014 through 2017, there has been a 20 percent increase in assaults against police, up to about 60,000 per year,” Mr. Barr said. “There is another development that is demoralizing to law enforcement and dangerous to public safety. That is the emergence in some of our large cities of District Attorneys that style themselves as “social justice” reformers, who spend their time undercutting the police, letting criminals off the hook, and refusing to enforce the law.”
Mr. Barr said these anti-law enforcement DAs have refused to enforce broad swathes of the criminal law, refused to prosecute cases of resisting police, refused to prosecute various theft cases or drug cases, even where the suspect is involved in distribution, and some seek sentences that are pathetically lenient.
He was no doubt speaking about DAs such Philadelphia’s Larry Krasner, a lifelong civil rights defense attorney. Before he was elected DA, he sued the Philadelphia Police Department 75 times and represented pro-bono such anti-police organizations such as Black Lives Matter, ACT-Up and Occupy Philly.
The day after the standoff and police shootings, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, William M. McSwain, weighed in.
“What I witnessed last night was true heroism by the Philadelphia police. But the crisis was precipitated by a stunning disrespect for law enforcement – a disrespect so flagrant and so reckless that the suspect immediately opened fire on every single officer within shooting distance. Only by the grace of God did they survive,” Mr. McSwain said. “Where does such disrespect come from? There is a new culture of disrespect for law enforcement in this City that is promoted and championed by District Attorney Larry Krasner — and I am fed up with it.
“We’ve now endured over a year and a half of the worst kinds of slander against law enforcement — the DA routinely calls police and prosecutors corrupt and racist, even ‘war criminals’ that he compares to Nazis. This vile rhetoric puts our police in danger. It disgraces the Office of the District Attorney. And it harms the good people in the City of Philadelphia and rewards the wicked.”
Mr. McSwain noted that the alleged shooter, Maurice Hill, was a previously convicted felon with a long rap sheet. He said the criminal laws in the city, especially existing gun laws and drug laws, should be aggressively enforced in order to protect the public and the police.
“We have prosecuted 70% more violent crime cases this year than we did last year, in response to the District Attorney’s lawlessness,” Mr. McSwain said. “But it is now time for the District Attorney and his enablers to stop making excuses for criminals. It is time for accountability. It is time to support law enforcement and to put the good people of this City first.”
Mr. McSwain went on to thank the brave officers wounded in the standoff and the other officers who rushed in to defend them.
Of course, Mayor Kenny and other Democrats offered knee-jerk reactions and called for more gun controls, blaming the gun and not the shooter. But as the alleged shooter was a career convicted criminal with a long history of gun offensives and other crimes, he could not have bought his weapon legally.
No new legislation can stop criminals from buying illegal guns, but the strict enforcement of existing gun laws can send illegal gun-toting criminals to prison.
• Paul Davis covers crime, espionage and terrorism.
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