Philadelphia’s homicide surge is a warning sign for Democrats

Philadelphia had more murders in 2021 than New York City — a city over five times larger than the City of Brotherly Love. One would think such a sobering, horrifying reality would cause local elected officials to respond forcefully to a carnage of this magnitude. Instead, liberal Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner responded in December, saying while gun violence had risen, other violent crime had not — or to quote him directly: “We don’t have a crisis of lawlessness. We don’t have a crisis of crime. We don’t have a crisis of violence.”
 
And though Krasner later said that “message conveyed through media sound bites is not at all what I meant” and that he did not mean to diminish the pain of the families who had been victims of gun violence, it was too late. He had offended virtually everyone who possesses functional eyes and ears. One such person so appalled by this monumentally tone-deaf statement was former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, an effective Democratic leader with a strong record on public safety who presided over the city during a period of relative prosperity.
 
The bottom line is that elected officials in major urban centers must address the homicide wave occurring on their watch. Indulging those extreme voices who argue for defunding the police and making law enforcement out as villains must end. It’s time to get serious about what is happening on the streets.
 
Democratic mayors, councilmen and district attorneys have the power to course correct if they have the courage and political will to do so. If they don’t, Democrats will pay a price at the polls across the country as voters, who too often see horrifying local news segments full of upsetting criminal activity, will reject the party they believe bears responsibility for the decline in public safety.

The political costs of a rise in violent crime, like homicide, will be born most heavily by House Democrats in competitive districts. Rep. Abigail Spanberger told her House Democratic colleagues shortly after the 2020 midterm election in which she narrowly won re-election that “defund the police” rhetoric nearly cost her the Virginia seat she holds.

What’s worse than the political costs are the impacts on the lives of our fellow citizens who fear for their safety in their homes and neighborhoods. Crime drives residents who can afford to leave their homes, leaving behind more vulnerable people with more limited incomes. Poverty becomes more pervasive as disinvestment saps the strength of those left behind.

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