Amid the outpouring of support for U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon after her carjacking in Philadelphia on Wednesday, there are also suggestions it was “poetic justice.” Critics note Scanlon has embraced the anti-law-enforcement rhetoric and Black Lives Matter policies they believe are contributing to the city’s current crime wave.
“The best way to deter crime is for the word to go out that criminals will be arrested, violent offenders given high bail, followed by aggressive prosecutions by competent and ethical prosecutors whose primary motivation is achieving justice for victims,” former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. told Delaware Valley Journal. ‘Treating the criminals as victims is stupid. Our nation’s prosecutors who think that way need to stop or get replaced by the voters.”
Scanlon is a political ally of progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner, best known for insisting Philadelphia doesn’t have “a crisis of crime,” even as the city is breaking records for murder and experiencing a surge in violence.
“As of Sunday, there had been nearly 2,300 gunpoint robberies in Philadelphia in 2021, an increase of 28 percent compared with the same period last year, when there were 1,775, according to police data,” The New York Times reported. There have been a record 540 homicides this year under Krasnwer’s watch as well.
Krasner later walked back his comments.
Far from a critic of Krasner’s law enforcement approach, Scanlon has been an outspoken advocate of the Black Lives Matter movement and the premise that policing and the justice system are inherently racist. She has been a regular attendee of BLM rallies across the region where speakers denounced law enforcement as racist and urged defunding the police.
In a statement she released after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted for the murder of George Floyd, Scanlon wrote, “I remain committed to confronting the harsh truths about law enforcement practices in our country that have allowed police violence against communities of color, especially Black individuals, to persist for far too long. If we truly believe Black Lives Matter, we must change law enforcement in the United States.”
Critics noted some of those same police officers were instrumental in capturing her carjackers.
“Some lessons are learned the hard way. Congresswoman Scanlon has opposed and undermined the police for her entire brief political career,” said former Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan. “In a case of poetic justice, there were no police around to save her when she was carjacked in broad daylight on the lawless streets of Philadelphia. You have to wonder whether she has learned her lesson now that her anti-police stance has impacted her directly, rather than merely hurting her poor black and brown constituents.”
Chuck Peruto, an attorney who ran against Krasner in November, called out Scanlon’s support for anti-police activism.
“I noticed that she had several Facebook posts about defunding the police,” Peruto said. “I’m wondering who she called when she needed help? Ironically, she’s going to get first-class treatment from police and DA because of who she is. In 85 percent of those cases, nothing happens because the prosecution does nothing.”
Democrats like Scanlon and Krasner argue guns and their availability are a key source of the crime problem. She’s backed numerous proposals to restrict gun sales and possession, including a ban on so-called “assault weapons” and limiting the size of magazines.
But State Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford), whose district is in Scanlon’s, says it’s the criminals who are the problem — a problem with an available solution.
“First, let me say that I’m glad Rep. Scanlon is safe, we all care about her, and as a former prosecutor who’s worked with many crime victims, I understand what she’s going through,” Williams told Delaware Valley Journal.
“I also imagine she’s feeling a great sense of relief that one of the gunmen is in custody. Unfortunately what happened to Rep. Scanlon –attacked on the street in broad daylight — reflects conditions in too many parts of Philadelphia: It’s violent. It’s armed. And it’s because Larry Krasner is not prosecuting crimes.”
Williams, whose wife Jennifer Williams is the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, notes that “it is already a violation of federal and state for a convicted felon to be in possession of a gun or ammunition. The most effective tool to get criminals off the streets is to prosecute them for being in possession of a gun. Larry Krasner won’t use it.”
The lead suspect in Scanlon’s case, Josiah Brown, 19, of Wilmington, Del., is a suspect in a string of crimes along the East Coast according to media reports.
“Anyone willing to victimize a total stranger at gunpoint at any time, much less in broad daylight, in the middle of the day, is a clear threat to our community,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “No one who lives, works, or visits here should have to fear violent criminals targeting them for their vehicle or any other possessions.”
Scanlon was also a prime sponsor of a bill to “make it easier for state and local governments to defund the police by instead funding mental health services and empowering them to respond to emergency calls instead of armed officers,” according to The Hill.