BY KATE SORENSON – THE HUFFINGTON POST
I met Larry Krasner in the early 1990s when I was fighting for the lives of friends and family living with AIDS who were being demonized and left for dead. Without hesitation, Larry stood by me and fellow members of ACT UP Philadelphia, representing us at no cost when we were arrested for using civil disobedience to save people’s lives.
Larry believed with strong conviction that we had the right to protest and demand action.
The next time I would have the fortune of working with Larry Krasner was in 2000, during the Republican National Convention. At that time, members of ACT UP joined thousands of others to protest mass incarceration, the death penalty and police brutality in the US.
Police violently attacked people and arrested more than 400 activists. The charges were excessive for civil disobedience and bails were then-unprecedented for political protest.
I was one of the activists profiled by District Attorney Lynne Abraham as a protest “ringleader,” arrested, and held on $1 million bail. I was ridiculously charged with ten felonies and ten misdemeanors.
District Attorney Abraham clearly wanted to teach us a lesson for speaking out. District Attorney Abraham’s team, which included then-Assistant DA and current candidate Rich Negrin, intended to lock up hundreds of young, bright activists for decades. In fact, it was Negrin who “reviewed and approved” the sensational search warrant police used to raid the infamous “puppet warehouse” and wrongfully arrest 70 people inside.
But the city’s attempts to criminalize me and so many others failed due in no small part to Larry’s vigorous and principled defense of our rights. Larry helped me and my fellow activists to fight the charges with a fierceness that kept us from sitting in prison for decades.
I still have friendships with many of the activists swept up by police and maliciously prosecuted. Some went on to become lawyers themselves; others became teachers, writers and doctors. One activist became the first Chinese-American woman to join the New York Fire Department.
As district attorney, Larry Krasner says he would not only stop prosecuting frivolous cases like ours, but also fight for the causes that did and continue to bring many of us to the streets.
Furthermore, Larry tells us he would work to end the system of mass incarceration that brought thousands of activists to the streets in 2000 and which has since angered millions of more Americans. By pushing for alternatives to incarceration, and holding police accountable for their abusive practices, while ending cash bail imprisonment, stop-and-frisk, civil forfeiture, and the pursuit of death sentences, Larry would go a long way toward producing a more just Philadelphia.
Larry Krasner represents real change in favor of true justice. And, he’s not just talk. Larry has walked the walk for decades and continues to fight for the people of Philadelphia!
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Kate Sorensen was arrested during the Republican convention in 2000, accused of being a protest “ringleader,” held on $1 million bail, and charged with ten felonies. She worked for months with Larry Krasner to win her case and now manages the development department at Causa Justa::Just Cause.
Kris Hermes, author of Crashing the Party: Legacies and Lessons from the RNC 2000, contributed to this piece.