Controversial cop critic on Philly DA-elect's transition team
Defense attorney Michael Coard has compared police departments to slave patrols and represented people accused of killing cops
By Chris Palmer
PHILADELPHIA — Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s district attorney-elect, has drawn skepticism and even scorn from some corners of law enforcement for his promises to bring radical change to the office.
One member of his newly announced transition team is bound to add to the concern.
Michael Coard, an outspoken defense attorney, activist, and media pundit, will join at least 15 other elected officials, city power brokers, and attorneys in helping Krasner refine his goals and shape his priorities before he assumes office in January.
Coard – a vocal Krasner supporter during the campaign – has compared police departments to slave patrols, represented people accused of killing cops, and, the day after the election, posted an expletive-laden meme on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, directing it at groups including the police union and disgruntled assistant district attorneys.
“F— all of you!” it said, layered over a picture of Oprah Winfrey during a famous stunt in which she gave her audience members new cars.
Coard wrote that he was posting the message on his own behalf – and “not from newly elected DA Larry Krasner.” He could not be reached for further comment Thursday.
Still, Coard’s appointment is unlikely to soothe those in law enforcement who have expressed worry over – and even contempt for – Krasner’s impending term as DA.
Earlier this month, some police officers said on their Facebook profiles that Krasner, a former civil rights attorney, was #notmyDA. John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, said Thursday that he was well aware of Coard’s posts, which he called “not very professional, especially when we have to work together.”
Krasner, shown a screenshot of the post during an interview at his law office Thursday, said he had not seen it before, but was not concerned with Coard expressing himself in “nonviolent, nonthreatening” ways.
The transition team, Krasner said, was designed to include a variety of perspectives. He pointed to the inclusion of Ronald Castille – former Philadelphia district attorney and chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court – as an example of a member whose views are not in lockstep with his.
Other notable team members include Marian B. Tasco, the former longtime city councilwoman; Michael DeBerardinis, managing director; Sylvester Johnson, former police commissioner; Maria Quinones-Sanchez, city councilwoman; and Chris Woods, a labor leader with District 1199C.
It does not include any current police, prosecutors, or public defenders – omissions Krasner said were intended to avoid sending signals of favoritism.
He said he thought the team consisted of people “who are all modern in their thinking in looking for creative solutions where traditional tactics have been less successful.” He hopes they can help him identify ways to implement his goals, which include reducing incarceration, not seeking the death penalty, and ending civil asset forfeiture.