Categories: crimeSpike

In New York, crime spike is top of voters’ minds

The candidates in next week’s Democratic mayoral primary in New York – the winner of which will almost certainly become the city’s next mayor – have been sharply divided over how to address the city’s spike in violence. After years of low crime rates, 2020 was New York’s most violent in a decade, and 2021 is on track to be even worse

Relative moderates, like Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, would increase the role of the New York Police Department. More left-wing candidates, such as civil rights activist Maya Wiley, want to reallocate funds away from the NYPD.

Why We Wrote This

The leading Democrats vying to become New York’s next mayor are promising more policing – a sign of how the debate has moved since last summer’s call to “defund the police.”

A similar debate over how to balance public safety and racial justice played out in the 2020 elections, with some Democrats later blaming the left’s “defund the police” messaging for their party’s House losses. As Democrats prepare to defend their razor-thin majorities in 2022, New York’s mayoral race may be an early indicator of how quickly the pendulum may be swinging back. 

“Here we are in the most liberal city in America – but the most liberal city in America depends on safety,” says Mitchell Moss, director of the Rudin Center for Transportation at New York University. “This is not a negotiable service.”

New York

Sami Shamlan came to New York 11 years ago hoping to give his family a better life. A lawyer in Yemen, he now spends 10 to 12 hours a day driving for Uber to show his four children “what an American work ethic looks like.” But lately, he’s been losing faith in the American dream.

Crime has gotten so bad in Mr. Shamlan’s Harlem neighborhood that he no longer lets his children play outside. He says he hears gunshots almost every night. And while he hasn’t decided which candidate he’ll support in next week’s Democratic primary for mayor, he’s sure of one thing: It won’t be anyone who wants to “defund the police.”

“The police have just gone away,” says Mr. Shamlan. “I hope it all goes back to normal, because we are all worried about our kids.”

Why We Wrote This

The leading Democrats vying to become New York’s next mayor are promising more policing – a sign of how the debate has moved since last summer’s call to “defund the police.”

The spike in gun violence represents a painful reversal: Before 2020, violent crime in New York was at record lows. But as the city was hit by the pandemic and then protests against police brutality swept the nation, that progress slipped. Last year was the city’s most violent in a decade, and 2021 is on track to be even worse. Violent crime has not only increased overall, but it has spilled over into previously safe, tourist-heavy areas such as Times Square and Greenwich Village. 

Crime is now the No. 1 issue in the mayoral race, according to recent surveys. The candidates vying for the Democratic nomination – the winner of which will almost certainly become the city’s next mayor – have been sharply divided over how best to address the violence, particularly when it comes to policing. Relative moderates, like Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, are running on platforms that would increase the role of the New York Police Department. More left-wing candidates, such as civil rights activist Maya Wiley and city Comptroller Scott Stringer, want to reallocate funds away from the NYPD. 

Story Hinckley/The Christian Science Monitor

Mayoral candidate Kathryn Garcia says New Yorkers are “very concerned” about the uptick in gun violence and hate crimes happening throughout the city. “They really want us to be having serious conversations about what [we] are going to do,” says Ms. Garcia.

With crime rates rising nationally, a similar debate over how to balance public safety and racial justice will likely be front and center in the 2022 midterm elections. After Republicans flipped 15 House seats in 2020, several Democratic lawmakers blamed the left’s “defund the police” messaging for their party’s losses. As Democrats prepare to defend their razor-thin congressional majorities, New York’s mayoral race may be an early indicator of just how potent the issue will be – and how quickly the pendulum may be swinging back. 

“Here we are in the most liberal city in America – but the most liberal city in America depends on safety,” says Mitchell Moss, director of the Rudin Center for Transportation at New York University. “The underlying point here is that this is not a negotiable service.”

“We’ve seen the streets change”

Thus far, it seems as if #DefundthePolice is not winning over most New Yorkers. Ms. Garcia received the endorsements of both The New York Times and the New York Post. Although polling has been limited and complicated given the city’s new implementation of ranked-choice voting, which will allow voters to rank candidates in order of preference, Ms. Garcia, Mr. Adams, and Mr. Yang have most often been in the top three. 

A former officer who has leaned heavily on his NYPD background and called stop-and-frisk “a great tool,” Mr. Adams has been leading in the latest polls, with nearly half of likely voters ranking crime and public safety as the top priority for the next administration. If elected, Mr. Adams says he will implement gun “spot checks” at bus and train stations and “significantly increase” funding to the city’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence. 

“Eric Adams, I like him. I like that he’s an African American male like myself and he’s been in the system,” says Jordan Johnson, buying flavored ice on a street corner in Harlem to combat the summer heat, as sirens wail in the background.

Story Hinckley/The Christian Science Monitor

Andrew Yang, a former presidential candidate who is running in the Democratic primary for New York mayor, speaks at a Jewish center in Queens, June 6, 2021. “How many of you are tired of being scared to let your kids go out and play?” asks Mr. Yang, to cheers from the crowd.

“We definitely should not be defunding the police,” says Mr. Johnson. “There were two shootouts just last week.” 

There have been 687 shooting victims so far this year, a 68% increase from 2020. Hate crimes against Asians are up 335% in May 2021, and almost 200% against LGBTQ New Yorkers. On Memorial Day alone, seven shootings occurred across the five boroughs within six hours.

“I am listening to voters, and what voters say is that they aren’t feeling safe right now,” says Ms. Garcia at a campaign stop in Richmond Hill in Queens, home to the largest Sikh population in the city. Ms. Garcia is campaigning on a promise to get 10,000 illegal guns off New York City streets during her first year in office, partly by upping the city’s buyback rebate from $200 to $2,000. She wants to reassign more police personnel to the neighborhood policing unit and increase police presence on the subway, among other measures.

“We need to have neighborhood policing and patrols walking the beat like they used to back in the day,” says Ms. Garcia in an interview, “because we cannot live in a city where we see gun violence go up again.”

Nearly all the Democratic candidates say they’ve felt the change in the city firsthand. 

“In our neighborhood, Evelyn and I, we’ve seen the streets change,” Mr. Yang says. He’s just wrapped up an event at a Jewish center in Kew Garden Hills, also in Queens, during which he proclaims, to loud cheers from the crowd, that “defunding the police is the wrong answer for our city.” If elected, Mr. Yang promises to increase police presence at the city’s 472 subway stations as well as on the streets, while “bolstering the detective ranks” to improve crime-solving rates.

“It’s real,” Evelyn Yang, Mr. Yang’s wife, agrees. “I grew up in Flushing and Bayside, and I have never felt unsafe in this city. Never in my life. And now I do a little dance, like a little 360 spin when I go outside.”  

High unemployment, record homelessness

Experts offer several potential reasons for the recent violence, such as psychological and economic distress from the pandemic and greater distrust of the police following last summer’s murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The number of unemployed New Yorkers more than quadrupled between March and May of 2020, and the city’s unemployment rate is still more than 11% – three times what it was before the pandemi

Read More

News Bot

Share
Published by
News Bot

Recent Posts

Distress levels up, deaths steady in COVID

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare says the COVID-19 pandemic did not increase the…

24 mins ago

Health treatment gap for Indigenous in NSW

Indigenous Australians - including expectant mothers - report less satisfaction with their treatment in NSW…

24 mins ago

Plea for ACT government to ease discomfort for asthmatics

Failure to remove wood-burning stoves means air purifiers are needed in the ACT, Asthma Australia…

24 mins ago

CHINA CYBERATTACK CONDEMNED: Australia blasts ‘malicious’ hack

China has been directly blamed for a massive hack of Microsoft Exchange software, with the…

24 mins ago

LinkedIn looks to premium publishers as a way to drive subscriber revenue

July 27, 2021 by Max Willens LinkedIn would like to broaden the base of people…

25 mins ago

Marketing Briefing: Ad execs and marketers say this Olympics has ‘lost its luster’

The typical global fervor for the Olympics is lacking this year, making it less of…

25 mins ago