BY JOHN N. MITCHELL – THE PHILADELPHIA TRIBUNE
When Rochelle Bilal talks about the issue of unarmed Black men being shot by police officers, it’s clear that of the many policing issues important to the president of the Guardian Civic League, the local chapter of the National Black Police Association, few are more important to her than this one.
That was evident at a Wednesday afternoon press conference at the group’s Girard Avenue headquarters at which the organization of more than 2,000 African-American police officers threw its support behind Larry Krasner, the Democrat running for district attorney.
“First, we are Black, and then we are police officers second,” Bilal continued. “That is the job we do and not who we are as human beings — so we are concerned about it. We see those things. We see the not-guilty verdicts, and yes, we don’t like it either. Something needs to change when people are saying they are fearful for their lives.”
Krasner, who defeated six other Democrats to earn the party’s nomination this past spring, is the overwhelming favorite to win the general election when he faces Republican Beth Grossman in November. And while it is highly unlikely that the Guardian Civic League would have supported her candidacy, Bilal said the Republican candidate never sought it.
“To be honest with you, Beth Grossman never reached out to me,” Bilal said. “We haven’t gotten a phone call, an email or a text. I don’t know her that well, but she knows our organization and she knows what we do.”
Krasner is a civil rights attorney who has represented clients such as Occupy Philadelphia and Black Lives Matter. He has sued the police more than 75 times, and he speaks of mass incarceration as being a problem far more than most candidates do who aspire to the district attorney’s office.