Being a good neighbor is one of the most important things you can do in life. More than the practical activities of shoveling the sidewalk or keeping an eye on the street is the underlying commitment. You watch out for your neighbors and they watch out for you. If you feel that there is someone hurt or in trouble you do something about it, because what happens to one of us, happens to all of us.
Racial relations in this country feel so dismal right now because of the seeming breakdown of this commitment. Black children are being shot or thrown in prison on a daily basis, and faced with overwhelming evidence of this problem, many white people are looking the other way. Most of us are horrified but just have no idea what to do. Police culture seems incapable of transforming itself from within, and the Left is still rubbing its sore ass after the last election. Structures in our society keep us disempowered, segregated, and isolated from each other, and although social media has given us a thorough education about police brutality, it has also made us all millions of powerless bystanders, watching helplessly as men, women, and children are murdered for being black in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Many of us already know about the prison industrial complex and the devastation wrought on communities by the “war on drugs,” but this vast edifice seems immovable, cruel, and accountable to no one.
However, there is an opportunity right now for significant change and transformation in the district attorney’s race. Larry Krasner has pretty much put his life on the line to run for office as an unapologetically anti-fascist candidate for top cop. This happens unbelievably rarely (never before in Philadelphia) and his campaign has come at a time when people are desperate for the kind of leadership he has shown throughout his career.
His campaign has union support, 500 volunteers, thousands of small donors, and, surprisingly and fortunately, air support from billionaires who don’t want to see our country trend any more towards Nazism. I am supporting Krasner for DA because he is the only candidate who would upend an unbelievably corrupt criminal justice system built on profiteering and exploitation for profit. Justice makes us safer, as his campaign slogan goes, but what makes us really safe is trust. I support his campaign because I believe black lives matter, and I believe that they are not being treated as sacred. This is our chance to get off the sidelines.
There are so many candidates in the race that Krasner could conceivably win this campaign with as little as 17,000 votes, although I am sure they have a higher goal than that. If activists in this city can’t get 17,000 votes together to fight the prison industrial complex, then what the hell have we been doing all these years?
Just give one day next weekend, or take a day off next Monday or Tuesday and help out at the polls. Or phone bank! Or email your friends and remind them. Or tell someone under age 30 about what this race means, and make sure they know where to vote.
All the hours and locations for volunteering for the next week are on Facebook here.
The phone banks are run out of 1221 Locust, and there are canvasses in the NW, South Philly, and West Philly (GO WEST PHILLY!!!) Please join the campaign. Your help is still needed, even a week out.
As important as skepticism is, we can never lose our ability to recognize authenticity and opportunity when we see it. The moment we lose that, we are done for. Krasner has never changed his stripes, in a long career of fighting for the powerless. I think Michael Coard said it best, in this very thoughtful and honest video:
“Larry believes in prosecution, not persecution. For the first time in my entire life, as a voter, I’m not voting for the lesser of two evils. I’m not voting and hoping that this guy will do the right thing…He’s going to do the right thing for everybody.”