The Corner

Politics & Policy

New York City Shootings Up 94 Percent Over Pre-Pandemic Levels

Mayor Bill De Blasio hugs his wife Chirlane McCray after dropping the ball on New Year’s Day in Times Square, New York City, January 1, 2021. (Gary Hershorn/Reuters Pool)

Two women and a four-year-old girl were shot in Times Square in broad daylight yesterday (or as the New York Times delicately put it, a beef between two men opening fire wound up “injuring” the trio). All three were expected to survive their injuries. One of the women who was shot told the New York Post that as she lay on the ground with a bullet in her leg people filmed her on their cell phones instead of helping. “I was screaming, ‘I don’t want to die, please help me!’ — and people were just recording, they weren’t helping,” she said.

At what point does crime in New York City become something that demands getting serious? Not yet, apparently. Disaster Mayor Bill de Blasio, who last year cut a billion dollars from the police budget while letting hundreds of prisoners out of city jails, predictably blamed outsiders: “The flood of illegal guns into our city must stop,” he said, which is a convenient way for him to claim that his crime problem is the fault of other states.

Shootings in 2019 up to this point in 2019 numbered  239; this year we’re at 469. That’s a 94 percent increase. And Times Square is, at least in theory, heavily policed. It must take a tremendous feeling of impunity to open fire in  a location with so much security. Also, shootings there carry outsized importance, not least for the image of the city and the many businesses that depend on tourists, who mostly come from places where 469 people don’t get shot every four months and hence are easily scared away. The area instantly turned into a gigantic crime scene: “By about 6:40 p.m., nearby streets were fully barricaded to traffic and most pedestrians. Shops and restaurants at the center of Times Square, like Starbucks, Gap and Taco Bell, had emptied out,” reports the Times. ” An eerie silence fell over most of the blocks in the immediate area, interrupted only by conversations among the dozens of officers who stood from 42nd Street up to at least 47th Street.”

Instead of getting serious about the problem, De Blasio is spending $30 million on an ad campaign meant to draw tourists. “We need to let people know– we’re open for business. It’s safe,” he said at a press conference last month.

In June, a Democratic primary for New York City mayor will be held, and the winner will almost certainly be elected the next mayor. Some promising noises have been made. Former NYPD captain Eric Adams, who has promised to bring along a sidearm whenever he enters a house of worship, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang are the leading candidates at the moment. Yang has blasted police defunding.

Last year murders were up 44 percent and shootings a dizzying 97 percent. Crime is so bad that Governor Andrew Cuomo, who ultimately controls the subway system, sarcastically said, “‘Come on the subway. It’s safe!’ Oh really. Have you been on the subway? Because I have, and I was scared.’” De Blasio fired back that the subways are fine.

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