When the race for New York City’s mayoralty began in earnest late last year, the city was still shaken by the death of George Floyd, and cries of “defund the police” continued from the Bronx to Battery Park.
Now, with the Democratic primary on Tuesday, Eric Adams — a former black policeman who called on more NYPD officers — is one of the candidates to win a contest that has become a referendum on New Yorkers’ attitudes toward police and public security.
Several opinion polls showed Adams Leadership A crowded field with escalating shootings and hate crimes pushed public security to the top of voter’s fears as the response to the coronavirus pandemic, once the main issue, faded.
From the moderate wing of the party, Adams is vying with businessman Andrew Yang, and Catherine Garcia, the former head of the city’s sanitation department whose campaign appears to be gaining traction of late. They all proposed various reforms to improve police work, from better training to raising the conscription age and imposing harsh penalties for bad officers. However, they remained rhetorically supportive of the police force and its role in the city, rejecting progressive calls to cut its resources.
“Nothing works in our city without public safety, and for public safety we need the police,” Yang declared last month after the broad daylight shooting of a four-year-old girl in Times Square.
Meanwhile, Garcia dismissed the “funding pull” as unserious, saying, “Black lives matter, deadlock . . . but we still need safe policing.”
To their left is Maya Wiley, former lead attorney for Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has promised to withdraw $1 billion from the NYPD’s $6 billion budget and redirect it toward social services. She has benefited from a number of endorsements recently, including from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Bronx congresswoman and progressive star.
“Here’s the truth – we’re hiring police officers to do the work of social workers,” she said Wednesday night in a recent debate dominated by questions about public safety.
Juman Williams, a New York City public defender, said he felt compelled to support her campaign after concluding that voters were given the wrong choice: between more police or more violence. “Policing alone cannot – and has never provided – public safety,” Williams said.
Another progressive candidate, former school official Diane Morales, wants $3 billion from the police department and has gone so far as to claim that police are making the city more dangerous.
In a city overwhelmingly Democrats, the winner of Tuesday’s primary will almost certainly hold the general election in November and take charge of America’s largest city at a perilous moment, as it tries to recover from a pandemic that has killed more than 33,000 residents. And it led to strained commercials. social fabric.
Regardless of the winner, some analysts and observers have concluded that political winds have turned on security.
“The pendulum has swung its way into the defunding movement, and I think it is swinging now,” said Richard Auburn, chair of the Citizens Crime Commission, a nonpartisan group working to improve policing. “I think the defund movement only thrived for a short time because crime was so low.”
Alexander Reichel, a professor at CUNY Queens College, agreed that the rise in crime had “reshaped” the mayor’s race, saying, “It has taken the wind off the sails of many progressives.”
Similar debates are taking place in other US cities that also suffer from high crime rates. However, as Rachel notes, it has been a uniquely prominent issue for New Yorkers because of the “long shadow of the 1970s and the fear of the city getting out of control.”
According to New York Police statistics, shootings rose 64 percent this year through the second week of June compared to the same period last year, when the number also rose. Over the course of 12 months, shooting doubled compared to the previous 12 months. Homicides are up 13 percent and reported hate crimes are up 117 percent.
The numbers did not show the horror sparked by reports of elderly Asian women being assaulted on sidewalks and disintegration of neighborhoods where graffiti and other forms of anarchy take root.
“The situation is so bad. The city has almost given up politically on any enforcement of quality of life crime, whether it’s doormat pests or illegal street vendors or corner drug dealers, all the emotionally disturbed individuals among the homeless population,” said William Bratton.
Bratton led the police department under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, when declining crime rates paved the way for a property price boom and the renaming of New York as “the safest major city in America.”
Bratton returned in 2014 for the first three years of de Blasio’s management. Crime continued to decline even as the aggressive “stop and frisk” tactics that so resented the black and Hispanic communities during the Bloomberg era were reduced.
Bratton blamed criminal justice reforms passed by city and state politicians — including the abolition of cash bail for many crimes — for much of the resurgence. He also lamented how Floyd was killed in May 2020 by Minneapolis police officers, and other such incidents, “torn apart” trust with communities of color.
“No matter who ends up as mayor, that should be their top priority because it looks like it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” he said.
For Williams, the public defender, this analysis ignores the role of the pandemic, and the economic and social disintegration it has brought about during court closures as well. For those who advocate only incremental reforms, he noted that the Minneapolis Police Department underwent reforms of its own before Floyd’s murder.
“We have to reimagine public safety in its truest form because what we’ve been doing is letting the police take all this responsibility while they’re not working,” he said.
Adams’s political origin story begins with police violence: As a teenager growing up in Queens, he said he and his brother were beaten up in an area basement by two white police officers. This experience, he says, led him to a career in law enforcement so that he could bring about change from within.
He retired from the rank of captain after a 22-year career in which he co-founded 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care to address racism within the force and build better relationships with the black community.
Adams’ campaign has shown some warts, particularly regarding his past fundraising practices and, more recently, questions about whether he was actually a resident of New Jersey. (He insists it is not.) He also has an unusual tendency to speak in the third person.
But his reputation as a pragmatist and dealmaker reassured the city’s business elite. He was also in good standing with the changing mood about the crime. Hours after the Times Square shooting, he organized a press conference nearby.
“Gun violence,” he answered this week when asked what his number one priority would be if he were elected mayor. “You see it over and over again all over our city.” He explained that the losses were human but also linked to the city’s economic recovery: “No tourist would come to this city if a three-year-old was shot in Times Square.”
Among other changes, Adams proposed hiring more officers of color and reducing bureaucracy to send more police into neighborhoods. Somewhat controversially, he wants to revive special “crime-fighting units”, which were disbanded last year, to tackle gun crime. He refused to repudiate “stop-and-frisk”, on the condition that it was used appropriately, a point at which Wiley repeatedly destroyed him.
“He knows policing and getting out, and the advantage he has as a reformer is that he will understand what can be done, and will be in a very good position to dismiss the idea of what cannot be done,” Aburn said. Citizens Crimes Committee.
But Victoria Davis, whose brother DellRaun Small was shot and killed by an off-duty cop in New York City in 2016 after a road rage incident, wasn’t convinced. Davis accused Adams of “playing with fear” and mocked him as “the director [candidate] For whites who want to be progressive, but don’t know how.”
In the South Bronx, the neighborhood that has seen New York City’s worst crime over the years, longtime resident and blogger Ed Garcia Conde sensed the division of his neighbors along generations.
“You have the older generation that wants to ‘send troops’ and do something about increased gun violence, and then you have the younger generation that wants to ‘defund’ the police,” García Conde stated. “It will go back to whoever comes to vote.”
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