Black Lives Matter, the Fraternal Order of Police, civil asset forfeiture and the use of secret grand juries were all topics of discussion as the two candidates seeking to become the next Philadelphia District Attorney faced off for the first time since the May primary.
Democratic candidate Larry Krasner and Republican candidate Beth Grossman outlined their positions on a wide range of issues during the hour-long discussion, which was held Tuesday. The Philadelphia Bar Association hosted the forum and Charles Gibbs, president of the Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia and co-chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s city policy committee, moderated.
The candidates differ greatly on several topics, but neither candidate’s stances changed significantly since the primary season, when a total of eight contenders– seven of them Democrats–vied for party nominations. That meant, for Krasner, his focus was portraying himself as an outsider and reformer for the office, while Grossman touted her more than 20 years of experience as a prosecutor within the office.
Gibbs’ questions touched on everything from how the two would restructure the office, to how the candidates might seek to “bridge the gap” between Black Lives Matter, which was involved in a protest outside the home of a police officer who fatally shot a man, and the FOP, the leader of which later referred to those protesters as a “pack of rabid animals.”
In response to the question about bridging the gap, Grossman noted she had been endorsed by the FOP, but said she disagreed with “name-calling on any side.”
“I am my own thinking being,” she said.
Ultimately, she said, the issue comes down to all the parties communicating together.
“I don’t know whether we can bridge the gap between the FOP and Asa Khalif [a Philadelphia-based Black Lives Matter organizer], but we can bridge the gap between the interest of Black Lives Matter and the District Attorney’s office,” she said.
Krasner defended the Black Lives Matter protesters as exercising their First Amendment rights, and said both Black Lives Matter and police in Philadelphia have varied interests, some of which may align.
“Ultimately, the good cops feel the same way I do, which is, they hate bad cops,” he said.