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Two Waves Colliding

July 15, 2019

Some people believe that New York’s progressive movement, currently personified by Queens district attorney candidate Tiffany Cabán, is the wave of the future. But another wave is rolling in the opposite direction.

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD ConfidentialPhiladelphia’s Larry Krasner, perhaps the country’s best-known progressive DA and whom Cabán says she emulates, has had his ears pinned back by the Pennsylvania state legislature.

A new bill would authorize the state’s attorney general to prosecute firearm cases that Krasner has dropped, allowing Philadelphia police to work directly with the attorney general and cutting Krasner out.

The legislation applies only to Krasner’s office — not to any other district attorney’s office in Pennsylvania. It would remain in effect for two years, expiring just after Krasner's first term is completed.

Krasner — who has endorsed Cabán, along with numerous New York and national progressives — was elected in 2017, as part of what some believe is a movement to revolutionize DA offices nationwide.

He ran on a platform to end mass incarceration, review past convictions, stop cash bail in many cases, and treat drug addiction as an illness and not a crime.

“The culture of the [Philadelphia] DA’s office must change,” he stated during his campaign.


Cabán shares his philosophy. “I have spent my career working for people who did not have the resources to defend themselves against the brutal system of mass incarceration,” she says on her campaign website. “I am running to transform the Queens district attorney’s office after years of witnessing its abuses…”

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard LevittKrasner’s year and a half in office has been, to say the least, controversial. It includes his firing 30 prosecutors during his first week in office; a sharp rise in the city’s homicide rate; and fury from local law enforcement officials and victim advocates.

Earlier this year, William M. McSwain, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, unveiled federal charges in a case in which Krasner accepted what many view as a lenient plea deal for a man who shot a shopkeeper with an AK-47 assault rifle.

“It’s not a coincidence that Philadelphia saw a double-digit increase in homicides in 2018,” McSwain said. “The policies of the District Attorney’s Office are undoubtedly playing a large role in this tragedy and nobody should be surprised by it.”

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialKrasner’s spokeswoman, Jane Roh, said in a statement that Krasner “has serious concerns about … the potential precedent [the legislation] sets, and what it signifies for the justice movement at large.” Roh did not return a call from NYPD Confidential.

Cabán’s campaign also did not return a call. She is in a neck-and-neck race with Melinda Katz, the Queens borough president, who is supported by much of Queens’s political establishment, despite her having no prosecutorial experience. (Cabán, a former Legal Aide attorney, doesn’t have any either.) A manual recount is underway, and it could be weeks or maybe months before a winner is declared.

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Copyright © 2019 Leonard Levitt