U.S. Attorney William (Bill) M. McSwain launched a crime-awareness campaign on Monday, and in doing so took another jab at Philadelphia’s District Attorney Larry Krasner.
“When criminals think there are no consequences for their actions, serious violent crime rises. That is the root of the crisis we are facing in Philadelphia today,” McSwain said in a memo, a thinly-veiled criticism of Krasner. McSwain is U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and was appointed by President Trump.
Violent crime has been on a steady rise in Philadelphia for five years, with a spike following the recent riots and looting in the wake of the George Floyd murder. More than thirty people were shot and at least five killed over the Fourth of July weekend alone.
The growing crime in Philadelphia has drawn the attention of some Delaware Valley-area police chiefs who are keeping an eye for any “spillover” effect.
McSwain’s memo said the awareness campaign will include messaging in the four collar counties of the Delaware Valley in addition to Philadelphia, and detailed how his office might assume responsibility for the kind of crimes typically handled by local officials.
“For example, under a federal statute called the Hobbs Act, passed by the United States Congress in 1946, it is a federal crime to use force or threats of force to rob a commercial business – like a pharmacy, a convenience store, or even a corner market,” the release said.
“It does not matter whether the robber steals thousands of dollars from the cash register or nothing more than a pack of cigarettes. Because these stores operate in ‘interstate commerce,’ the U.S. Attorney’s Office can take these cases federally. And that is exactly what it will do to get justice for the victims in these cases – store owners and their patrons who live in fear in their neighborhoods.”
Krasner ran for the district attorney’s office in 2017 on a reform platform emphasizing issues like mass incarceration, ending cash bail, and pledging never to pursue a death-penalty case. He is one of a handful of self-styled “reform” DAs across the country who have come into power in the last five years thanks especially to strategic financial backing from billionaire progressive George Soros.
Krasner’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Krasner has announced his 2021 re-election bid, which may explain why McSwain declined to use his Krasner’s name directly. If the U.S. Attorney is viewed as interfering in the Krasner campaign, that could be viewed as a violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits employees in the executive branch from engaging in political conduct.
Just a month ago, McSwain said Krasner was “fanning the flames” of protests in Philadelphia over the George Floyd killing — protests which often turned into riots, looting, and property destruction.
“I think that what’s important is for people to recognize — and all public officials in Philadelphia responsible for public safety — to speak with one voice to condemn this looting, condemn this rioting, condemn this lawlessness,” U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain told WPHT radio’s Dom Giordano in early June.
“And I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, our district attorney [in Philadelphia] is not really interested in any of that. He’s not showing any concern for the safety of the community.”
In March, McSwain said the fatal shooting of a Philadelphia police officer, “was the direct result of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s pro-violent-defendant policies.”
“Fortunately, Bill McSwain is working tirelessly to protect the citizens of Philadelphia while Larry Krasner is busy doing other things,” said Charlie Gerow, a longtime GOP consultant and political analyst. “McSwain doesn’t need to point out the obvious; people know the difference between what he’s doing and what Krasner has failed to do.”