Amid FOP skepticism, DA candidate Krasner endorsed by black Philly cops’ group

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Larry Krasner, the Democratic nominee for Philadelphia district attorney, whose candidacy has rankled some in the city’s police union, was endorsed Wednesday by the Guardian Civic League, an organization of black Philadelphia Police officers.

The support is, if nothing else, a symbolic boost for Krasner, a career defense attorney and the presumptive front-runner to become the city’s next top prosecutor. Despite a convincing win in May’s primary election, one constituency that has been reluctant to embrace Krasner’s candidacy has been the local Fraternal Order of Police, which represents about 14,000 active and retired officers from the city’s Police Department and Sheriff’s Office.

Rochelle Bilal, Guardian Civic League president, said Krasner — who has focused on advocating for civil rights during his career — was the candidate who best embodied the values of her organization, which was formed in 1956 to bring African American officers together and offer services to members. She declined to say how many current members the group has, but said it was more than 2,000.

Standing alongside Bilal at a news conference at the organization’s headquarters on Girard Avenue in North Philadelphia, Krasner said that the Guardian Civic League “has stood up for the rights of all people,” and that he looked forward to working with it.

Krasner’s campaign has centered on reforms to the criminal justice system, including pledges to never seek the death penalty, to reduce the use of cash bail for nonviolent offenders, and to end what he calls mass incarceration. As a civil rights attorney, Krasner sued the government or law enforcement 75 times, and during the campaign he criticized the DA’s Office for being too determined to uphold convictions and too willing to overlook police misconduct.

Some officers in the department are worried that a victorious Krasner would be overeager to prosecute police. And John McNesby, president of FOP Lodge 5, in May called some of Krasner’s supporters “the parasites of the city,” after a small group at Krasner’s primary victory party chanted a profane slogan about the FOP.

“His election to that position would be catastrophic to the department and the community as a whole,” McNesby said at the time.

Bilal said she had heard some worries from police about a potential Krasner win, but said she didn’t think many of the criticisms of him were valid.

“As long as [officers] do their job … I believe this DA will do his job accordingly,” she said.

Krasner, likewise, said that he supports the work of honest and hard-working officers.

“I am a huge fan of good police,” he said. “I will stand by them.”

McNesby and Krasner met earlier this month to seek peace. Both men described that meeting — brokered by U.S. Rep. Robert Brady, chairman of the Democratic City Committee — as productive. McNesby said that both Krasner and Beth Grossman, the Republican candidate in the DA’s race, would get a chance to seek the union’s endorsement.

Krasner said Tuesday that he had not yet met with the union’s members but anticipated doing so.

Attempts to reach McNesby for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Bilal said Grossman had not reached out to her organization for support.

If Bilal ends up bucking the FOP’s political stance in this election, it would not be the first time. Last year, she opposed the national FOP’s decision to endorse Donald Trump for president.

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