Editor’s note: This opinion piece from a former contributor compares Lynne Abraham’s treatment of Miriam White, a young African American girl accused of murder to the treatment of two white teenagers who allegedly raped an African American woman. However, Pennsylvania law requires prosecutors to charge all murder cases in adult court, while rape cases with juvenile defendants are generally required be prosecuted in juvenile court unless a deadly weapon was involved. Judge Legrome Davis specifically denied Miriam White’s petition to be tried as a juvenile.
By Joshua Albert
Most of your Philadelphia media won’t come right out and say it, but god damn this city if Lynne Abraham is elected Mayor.
Lynne Abraham announced this week she would be running for Mayor, which scared quite a lot of people for quite good reasons. I’m going to break down why Abraham (who if elected would be Philadelphia’s first female mayor) should be laughed and shamed out of the race.
Sure, every candidate will have dirt on them and things they have done in their past that will come into question during election season circus, but none so far have such a skeleton packed closet as former District Attorney Lynne Abraham. At a time when some elected officials are projecting really great messages to the city – you know, stuff like “don’t come to our city and be racist and homophobic” – she is the last person we need in office leading our city.
During the campaign for DA back in 2001 when Abrahams faced off with Alex Talmadge Jr in the primary, Abrahams used the campaign slogan “One Tough Cookie”, alluding to her reputation for being tough on crime. Talmadge made a radio commercial that opened with: “They called Bull Connor one tough sheriff.” Bull Connor over saw the Birmingham Police Department during the American Civil Right Movement. That department was responsible for some of the most brutal attacks against the African American community during the era of segregation and struggle for civil rights.
I won’t say that she is quite in Bull Connor territory. However, there is a trend that is apparent and that trend shows her relationship with the African American Community in Philadelphia is one of turmoil and hostility.
Exhibit A – Miriam White
Miram White was 11 when she grabbed a knife from her foster home, sprinted down a rainy street, and stabbed a lady to death. Miriam had a long history of being a victim physical, psychological, and sexual abuse according to psychologist who examined her after the incident. She also had severe psychiatric issues and was borderline mentally handicapped. At 13 she could only read at 1st grade level.
She was also black.
Enter DA Lynne Abraham -Abraham wanted this girl tried not as a young child with severe mental health issues who needed help, but as an adult. Miraim would have been entered into a system that would have not helped her, but would have only hindered the treating of her mental health issues. Miraim was the youngest person in PA tried as an adult for murder. White pleaded guilty after years of appeals in adult court in August 2007 to third-degree murder and possession of an instrument of crime. She was sentenced to 18 to 40 years in prison.
During the court proceedings, Abraham’s office filed a petition to remove Common Pleas Court Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes, claiming she was biased.
Hughes was also black.
“It seems yet again that the District Attorney’s Office has a problem with a hardworking, independent African American female judge,” said assistant defender Bradley S. Bridge to The Philadelphia Inquirer back in 2000.
After that, she really figured out that the best way to smooth over relations with the community would be to NOT charge two white men as adults who raped a young girl. The rapist were instead, according The Philadelphia Inquirers Jacqueline Soteropoulos:
“given indeterminate sentences in sex-offender-treatment facilities with a four-month review”
Exhibit B – “Do you believe that blacks commit 85 percent of the crime in this city?” She responded “Yes. I do. I really do.”
She later apologized for it, maybe recognizing it was rather inaccurate. When asked to clarify, she explained that what she really meant to say was:
“discrimination may account in part for the high rate of imprisonment of black people.”
But, wait there’s more.
She apologized when she was called out for the profoundly ignorant and inaccurate statement, but then, just a few weeks later, she repeated that exact thing at a church – an all black church.
Exhibit C – You pot smoking murdering heathens!
As Philadelphia is attempting to make progress on issues like marijuana, Abraham is still stuck in what seems to be the Nixon era, completely ignoring the fact that the Drug War has failed.
According to William Bender for The Daily News:
“Her view is that people who smoke marijuana – by far the most widely used illicit drug in the United States – are violent deviants, roaming Philly’s streets with deadly weapons, killing witnesses and committing ‘untold numbers of crimes’ to support their habit.”
She also added, quite comically in that cute grandmother kind of way:
“Don’t tell me about polls. I don’t want to hear it,” Abraham groused. “People want to drive 100 miles an hour. They want to smoke pot. They want to do everything!”
Exhibit D – She could possibly be the least successful serial killer in history.
She loves the death penalty. I mean really loves it, it’s actually painstakingly bizarre. There is even a site that features some of her most “note worthy” pro-death penalty related quotes.
During her tenure as Philadelphia’s top lawyer she gained national attention for her death penalty sentences. The New York Times even did a whole profile calling her “The Deadliest DA”, she has also been called “ The Queen of Death.” The latter of which I personally prefer. While DA she sentenced hundreds of people to death row, more than most DA’s in the country, spending millions of tax payer dollars.
The thing is, not one person she sentenced to death has yet been executed, although many of them still sit on death row.
A serial killer is defined as:
…a person who murders three or more people over a period of more than 30 days, with a “cooling off” period between each murder, and whose motivation for killing is largely based on psychological gratification.
Ordering an execution in my personal opinion is the same thing as killing someone, but it’s the “psychological gratification” aspect of the definition that seals the deal for me. Her views on the death penalty can best be summed up by one simple quote she wrote for this awkward Philly Mag piece. In the piece she drops a lot of weird one liners, one of which goes:
“Obviously the death penalty has been with us since the dawn of man. Sometimes it’s called war.”
Exhibit E – 2000 Republican National Convention
Philadelphia could very well be the site of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. If Abraham is elected mayor, her administration would oversee this highly-protested event.
During the 2000 RNC, police infiltrated a group of protesters that had rented a warehouse in West Philly that they were using to make puppets. Police then lied about it, only to be caught in said lie later when the information about how the warrants were obtained became available. The ACLU denounced the infiltration by police, calling the tactics used “legally questionable.” During the protest, approximately 400 people were arrested and charged with various misdemeanors and some pretty serious felonies. Unlike other cities who had seen these kinds of protests where activists were arrested and later released with charges dropped, Abraham made sure that bails were high. Astronomically high. Some were between $500,000-$1,000,000, and were employed to force protesters to sit and and await trial. Many of the bails were later dropped to significantly lower amounts and the protesters were soon freed.
However, while the protesters were in jail, they were held in solitary confinement and claimed they were mistreated. The treatment of the protesters was so bad that Human Rights Watch called for an investigation. While protesters were in jail, they threatened Abraham with a hunger strike if the demand to begin negotiations about dropping charges were not met. Her response?
“Get a life.”
The bulk of the charges against the protesters were later dropped because of faulty evidence or plead out to lower charges, and many civil suits were filed, and settled or won.
Since Lynne Abraham loathes polls, I’m conducting a poll
Based off what you’ve read above, readers, please answer the following question:
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[…] So far the only candidates to officially declare are Terry Gillen, Ken Trujillo, and Lynne Abraham. […]
[…] those with mental health issues, and against people of color. As Joshua Scott Albert noted in a recent column for The Declaration, Abraham’s understanding of the overlap between criminal justice and the mental health system […]
[…] former district attorney revels in her “one tough cookie” moniker, but last night, she didn’t seem tough at all. In fact, she seemed all too human. […]