A Recognition That We’re All Getting Screwed

Winning the white working class for criminal justice reform

BY VANESSA BAKER — n+1 MAGAZINE

IN PORT RICHMOND, a working-class neighborhood in Philadelphia, the houses all have doorbells. Go a few blocks south, to the gentrifying neighborhood of Fishtown, and you’ll hardly find any. Many of the freshly slapped together, space-ship-like condos that have blanketed the neighborhood aren’t even built with them in the first place; or they’re behind massive gates, with buzzers that connect to the residents’ cell phones. You might reach them, in other words, but they might not be home. In Port Richmond, however, neighbors park lawn chairs on the sidewalk or sit on stoops and talk to each other for hours, when the weather’s nice.

Today, the weather isn’t nice. It’s 12 degrees with the wind chill on this mid-March Saturday morning, and I keep switching my clipboard from one hand to another so each gloved hand can take a turn regaining circulation in my pocket. Nobody answers at the first few doors I knock, and I don’t blame them for not wanting to let the cold in. Even if someone answers, I wonder if I’ll be able to persuade anyone here to vote for Larry Krasner, the most progressive candidate for district attorney that Philadelphia—perhaps any major city—has ever seen.

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