Northeast Philadelphia Against Racism on Saturday held a rally billed as being against hatred and white supremacy and for justice, peace and equality.
The rally ultimately turned into an effort to boost District Attorney Larry Krasner 10 days before the Democratic primary. Krasner faces former homicide prosecutor Carlos Vega, whom he fired after taking office in 2018.
The rally took place at the World War I monument at the Five Points intersection of Cottman, Oxford and Rising Sun avenues in Burholme.
In addition to Krasner, the following elected officials spoke in favor of the incumbent’s re-election: City Councilwomen Kendra Brooks, Jamie Gauthier and Helen Gym and state House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton.
Councilman Isaiah Thomas supports Krasner, but did not directly talk about the DA race. State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, who is running for U.S. Senate, argued that merely arresting people doesn’t make the public safer. City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, who is not taking a stand in the DA race, spoke against white privilege and for social justice.
Deja Lynn Alvarez, seeking to become the first transgender member of the state House, also spoke.
Judicial candidates John Padova, Michele Hangley, Caroline Turner and Greg Yorgey-Girdy were also recognized.
People held signs that read “Black Lives Matter,” “White Supremacy Kills” and various ones calling for an end to gerrymandering.
Northeast Philadelphia Against Racism distributed literature noting that 30 of the 31 judges on the state Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth courts are white. The literature went on to say highly qualified black women are running for Superior and Commonwealth courts. Those candidates are Democrats. NEAR did not say a qualified black woman is running for Supreme Court, even though Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Paula Patrick is seeking the Republican nomination and has been deemed “Highly Recommended” by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
Organizer and emcee Melissa Robbins held a giant picture showing the Proud Boys hanging outside FOP Lodge 5 after a speech by Mike Pence. She said FOP president John McNesby should “leave our city.”
Gauthier called the FOP “racist.”
The FOP supports Vega and has hired a Mister Softee truck to distribute free ice cream outside the district attorney’s office as a way of showing that Krasner is soft on crime.
At the rally, Krasner pointed to a media report claiming the Mister Softee jingle is racist. Mister Softee was founded in the 1950s, and Krasner said that’s where McNesby’s “brain still is.”
The Guardian Civic League, which represents black cops, supports Krasner.
“We got to get rid of John McNesby,” the DA said.
Amid some of the anti-FOP talk, none of the speakers mentioned the rally was held on the same day as the 15th anniversary of the murder of 15th Police District community relations officer Gary Skerski, killed during an armed robbery at Pat’s Cafe, in Northwood.
Incidentally, on the day of the rally, there were seven murders in Philadelphia.
McNesby issued the following statement: “Facts are facts, Larry Krasner is soft on crime and has failed our city. Philadelphia is more dangerous and violent because of Krasner’s failed leadership. Krasner is anti-law-enforcement. He continues to run away from his failed record and his total disregard of victims and law enforcement. Our police department is one of the most diverse and professional police departments in the country and we embrace that diversity. We support our rank-and-file officers, while Krasner presses on with his outsized ego and disregard for public safety.
“We support Carlos Vega because he will balance public safety with measured criminal justice reform … Vega has tried more than 400 murder trials and will restore integrity within the DA’s office.”
Others harshly criticized at the rally included Vega, Donald Trump, Lynna Abraham, Ronald Reagan, Tom Corbett, Jeff Sessions and Frank L. Rizzo.
Speakers called for the elimination of cash bail, keeping Philadelphia a sanctuary city, opposition to Immigration and Customs Enforcement access to court records and citizenship for all.
Gauthier dismissed Vega as “the past.”
“Larry did the right thing in 2018 when he sent Carlos Vega packing,” she said. ••