BY WILL BUNCH — THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS
Do you still wonder why some NFL players or other pro athletes kneel or raise their fists during the National Anthem? Here’s a hint: It’s not because they hate our troops. No, it’s because they’re aware — often because of their own experiences — of systematic injustice in this country … and they wonder why next to nothing is being done. And it’s not just police-involved shootings. Consider the ongoing abuses of the procedure known as civil asset forfeiture.
The short version is this: Civil asset forfeitures take a notion that most people support — drug dealers and other convicted crooks shouldn’t keep their ill-gotten gains — and, in far too many jurisdictions, has warped it into a kind of bounty hunting program where cash, cars, and even homes can be seized from people who weren’t convicted of a crime and sometimes weren’t even charged. This can bring in millions of dollars that prosecutors and law-enforcement agencies then spend with little or no public oversight.
... despite years of abuses exposed in the media, an association with the taint of civil asset forfeiture doesn’t seem to hurt your political career. How else to explain how Beth Grossman, who ran the program for years, won the GOP district attorney nomination and endorsements from the Fraternal Order of Police and the Inquirer? ... Shouldn’t bad experience count for something?
Grossman’s Democratic opponent, Lawrence Krasner, has promised to only pursue assets after a criminal has been convicted. For common-sense proposals like that, some have branded Krasner a radical. But when you have a criminal justice system that is so badly broken, and so much in need of radical reform, is a radical not what you need? Five months after Krasner’s overwhelming win in the Democratic primary, too many people see his victory as a fluke and not what it really was — an uprising of a new majority, boosted by the young and non-whites and others whose voices tend to be marginalized in this town, who aren’t just sick of injustice and inequity in America but are getting fed up with elites who don’t take their concerns seriously. Call it a revolution — and call it long overdue.