Since taking the reins of New York City nearly three months ago, Mayor Eric Adams the challenge of regain security in the Big Apple, stalked by a crime wave, which according to NYPD datahas increased by almost 60% with hundreds of shootings that have become daily bread in different corners of the five boroughs, so far in 2022.
The gun violence in New York is a reality that no one hides, and although the majority of New Yorkers are on the Mayor’s side regarding the urgency of curbing crime and re-establishing order and security, including inside the Subway, the resurgence of Police tactics used in the past against crime are already generating publicity.
And it is that even though Adams has given his word again and again that the revival of the controversy anti crime unitremoved from the NYPD by the former Mayor Bill de Blasio after serious complaints of abuse against vulnerable communities, this is a different initiative that will be dedicated to preventing crime and not promoting abuses, the fear of reliving the days of unequal and excessive surveillance, are the order of the day.
Activists, immigrant advocates, organizations that support black, Latino and poor communities, and ordinary New Yorkers, see with doubt and concern the plans that Mayor Adams has already begun to promote, and that he has around to the ghost of excesses and the police brutality suffered by vulnerable groups under the Administration of the former Mayor Rudolph Guilliani in the late 90’s and Michael Bloomberg, from 2002 to 2013.
The launch of another initiative, which seems to be the sister of the also controversial tactic known as ‘broken windows’, that sought to stop small infractions or ‘quality of life crimes’ such as jumping the subway turnstile without paying, drinking alcohol in the street, urinating in public places and having loud music, allegedly to stop the commission of major crimes, has also fueled the bonfire.
The NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell announced this week the entry into force of the new action plan of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) that will pursue these offenses more vigorously, and that is already being seen, for example, with uniformed officers stopping Subway fare evaders and imposing fines at train stations.
AND to the rosary of fears that the plans to fight crime go ahead of the advances that the communities have achieved after tough campaigns to demand their rights, adds the attempt that Mayor Adams himself and the Governor Hochul have been doing in Albany so that the State Legislature reverse bail law changes.
Despite the fact that the state president herself has stated that the bail reform, which currently allows those accused of non-violent crimes not to be in prison and await their trial outside of jail without paying sums of money for that benefit, does not crime has skyrocketed, he continues his crusade to modify the rule that came into force in January 2020.
While Hochul and Republican legislators are intensifying their commitment so that Albany makes changes to the bail reform before April 1, when the budget for the next fiscal year must be approved and define the articles that will govern the laws of New York, Mayor Adams reaffirmed this week that, with or without these modifications, which he considers urgent and which he sees as additional tools for his orchestra of initiatives to combat crime to give greater results, he will continue to fight to return New York to safety.
Opinions divided by the new measures
That commitment gives hope to New Yorkers like Marco Rodriguez, Queens residentwho declares himself “tired of so much crime”, and who believes that “the Police must assert their strength to scare away the criminals who, for now, are winning the battle.
“I support Mayor Adams in his plans, because I’ve never seen this city so dangerous before and everyone doing whatever they want. It doesn’t bother me that they stop me and search me, as long as they do it with respect and to everyone equally,” said the Colombian. “I never lived what they say was New York in the time of Guiliani or Bloomberg, because I’ve only been here 8 years, but I think we need order.”
Peggy Perkinsmother of two children and member of the organization ‘New York Communities for Change‘, shares the desire for the city to be safer, especially after the ravages caused by COVID-19, but confesses that he is terrified that police surveillance plans will end up criminalizing black and Latino youth.
“I am very scared with the security plans of the NYPD. So much fear, that I’m even telling my children not to wear certain clothes so they don’t think they’re gang members, to stop doing things that children do, so that they end up being targeted by the Police. As a mother, I shouldn’t be saying that to my children, but I think another dark time of abuse is going to start that scares me a lot, “said the Brooklyn mother.
“We deserve different plans to fight crime, more housing programs, more jobs, more education. The last thing we need right now is to criminalize our children and our families. The criminals are being the ones who traumatize our communities”he added.
Jared Trujilloof the New York Civil Liberties Union, criticized the security approach that the leaders are seeking to promote in New York, and assured that the attempt to overthrow the advances of the bail reform, which for decades criminalized poverty, is an attack on entire generations of Latinos and People of color.
“We are scared to see our communities under attack again. It is not fair that we have to fight now so that the Governor does not take away rights that we have achieved after fighting for years. They want to send more people to jail and lock up our youth,” said the activist.
“Bail law only affects blacks and Latinos”
NYC Ombudsman Jumaane Williamsalso questioned the approach that seeks to put a check on the high levels of crime and gun violence in New York City, and called for comprehensive investment plans to be promoted in basic needs of the most vulnerable communities and not over-monitoring and criminalizing.
“Since the bail law only affects blacks and Latinos, the message that the Governor is sending by promoting changes to the reforms that we have already won, is that since they are poor communities, who cares and we are not going to allow setbacks,” said the official, who stressed that curbing crime from fear does not work.
“We do not need an approach from fear but from courage. Sowing fear drives up crime and we have seen for years that the answer cannot be more incarceration and more excessive policing because putting more Blacks and Latinos in cages does not fix public safety,” added Williams.
Liseth Nievesof the organization ‘Community Connection for Youth‘, called on Mayor Adams to review his crime-fighting plan and engage communities more, rather than target them for actions that criminalize them.
“The problem is that they are responding to the fear that crime is causing in the communities and they are not seeing the data that shows that bail reform is not to blame for the crime, nor seeing that what is needed is investment in our people. I think the problem with the security plan is that it is not listening to the communities and if they want it to work, they have to take us into account and the solution is not extreme police, not backtracking on laws,” said the activist.
“Arresting more youth for minor offenses is not a solution, when what they need is support, resources, connection to mental services, education and jobs to earn money. New York has to understand that 16 and 17-year-olds must be treated as young people, not as criminals,” he added. Nevis.
Can NYC return to Giuliani’s 90s?
Luis BolanosCivil Rights organizer the VOCAL-NY organization, also voiced opposition to the enforcement of the NYPD’s Anti-Crime Unit and ‘broken windows’ initiative with increased policing, and said that Mayor Adams is failing in his approach to crime, causing him to return to the Giuliani’s New York of the 90’s and even a few years ago with De Blasio and the ‘broken windows’ plan.
“There is a lot of fear in our communities with all these movements, because those with more police officers are not safer, but those with more resources. It is sad to see that after decades with that mentality of police persecution, it returns to that again, when it has been proven that it does not give results, “said the young man.
“There is no question that Mayor Adams’ solutions to crime are misguided. Putting more people in prison is not going to make our communities safer, and he should reconsider his initiatives that they will only serve to put Latinos and blacks back under the label of criminalsand that there are police officers who abuse their power,” added Bolaños.
The Asociation Legal Aid Society He also opposes the reinstatement of questioned practices in the NYPD to policing, and Governor Hochul’s attempt to amend bail reform.
“New York tried a ‘tough on crime’ approach for decades and it failed. Governor Hochul’s proposal will only cage more Black and Latino New Yorkers, ruining a historic opportunity to promote public safety by prioritizing communities, not cages.”
Given the concerns, Mayor Adams has said that the objective is to restore the safety of New Yorkers, guaranteeing that the police will do their job without committing abuses, which he assures “will not tolerate” and about his position on changes to the bail law He mentioned that what is not possible is “that dangerous criminals who should not be on the streets” go out to commit their crimes.
Also, the Commissioner of Sewell defended that the Uniformed will not return to the days of ‘Stop and Frisk’, a practice that criminalized vulnerable communities.
“To be clear, this is not a return to ‘Stop, Question, and Frisk,’ nor is it ‘watch by numbers.’ This law enforcement will respond to complaints and concerns from the community,” the NYPD chief said.
History of ‘broken windows’
The policing policy known as ‘broken windows’ was imposed by then Police Commissioner William J. Bratton, when he first took office during the administration of Republican Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
Bratton, who later returned to the post during the first years of former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s mandate, defended this tactic against so-called ‘quality of life’ crimes, and which was popularly known as a “zero tolerance” policy, using the theory whose basic tenet is that nipping minor transgressions in the bud prevents future crime escalation.