The police union served up its latest political weapon to deny District Attorney Larry Krasner a second term on Friday: Free ice cream.
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 (FOP) brought its campaign against Krasner to the doorstep of his Center City office by parking a Mister Softee ice cream truck on East Penn Square and giving away free soft-serve ice cream to passersby. An FOP electronic billboard on a truck stationed nearby read, “Fire D.A. Larry Krasner.”
FOP President John McNesby said he set up the political stunt because “the city is not safe right now” as shootings and homicides continue to climb higher.
McNesby accused Krasner of not prosecuting violent offenders, and failing to coordinate with police brass and other law enforcement officials.
“Soft on crime, soft on sentencing — that brings out Mister Softee,” said McNesby, referring to the Democrat’s policies during his first term in office.
“(Krasner) doesn’t speak to our commanders. He doesn’t speak to our commissioner. He doesn’t speak to the U.S. attorney. He doesn’t speak to the attorney general. He does what he wants to do. He’s arrogant and we’ve got to get rid of him,” McNesby added.
A spokeswoman for Krasner’s re-election campaign said he has received endorsements from groups across Philadelphia and called the FOP’s ice cream giveaway a publicity stunt.
“Larry Krasner (has) a broad coalition of support from over 60 endorsers who represent constituencies from all over this city,” the Krasner campaign spokeswoman said.
“They speak for the community, not the powerful, and we’re proud that today they are out working to better Philadelphia rather than serving ice cream and spending money on publicity stunts. We do, however, encourage all of the dedicated employees of the DAO (District Attorney’s Office) to take advantage of the opportunity to get some free ice cream.”
Krasner, who took office in 2018, is facing Carlos Vega in the May 18 Democratic primary. The FOP has endorsed Vega. Charles Peruto Jr. is running unopposed in the Republican primary.
Countering the FOP’s political stunt was Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif, who accused McNesby of being a “racist bigot” and harangued people not to take the free ice cream.
“They ain’t giving no free ice cream when they’re shooting your loved ones in the back and lying about it!,” Khalif blasted over his bullhorn steps away from FOP members and the Mister Softee truck.
Khalif said he intended to organize counter protests against FOP political events in the future.
Few would-be voters who received a free ice cream cone were familiar with the Democratic primary for district attorney, Vega, or who was picking up the tab for the frozen treats.
Brian Griffin, 73, said police reforms and reducing use-of-force tactics were his top issues but believed cops must still be “tight on crime.” The West Oak Lane neighborhood resident said the free ice cream wouldn’t influence his vote.
“It ain’t got nothing to do with ice cream,” Griffin said about his vote, while holding a vanilla ice cream cone. “It’s just about what’s going to be beneficial to the citizens of Philadelphia.”
Lisa Foster, 50, said she was undecided whether she would cast a ballot in the Democratic primary for district attorney but supported Krasner.
“He’s doing a pretty good job so far,” Foster, of North Philadelphia, said, noting she didn’t support Kranser four years ago.