- Shootings in New York City claimed the lives of at least 11 people over the weekend, police say.
- The weekend follows an especially violent June: 250 people were shot in the first 28 days of the month, according to NYPD stats.
- On Monday morning, Mayor Bill De Blasio attributed the spike in violence to what might be the “single worst combination of crises New York City has ever faced,” including the court closure and coronavirus.
- Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer attributed the spike in violence to the coronavirus shutdown and the recession it’s caused.
- NYPD Chief of Department Terry Monahan said bail reform, anti-police rhetoric, and the release of prisoners from Rikers Island play a role.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A surge in Independence Day weekend shootings, which follows an especially violent June in the New York City, has prompted the police department and union officials to blame recent criminal justice reform efforts and anti-cop rhetoric.
Mayor Bill De Blasio, though, said at a Monday morning press conference that the violence comes in the midst of what could be considered the “single worst combination of crises New York City has ever faced.”
“There’s no question that as we’re getting into warmer and warmer weather, and we’re feeling the effects of people being cooped up for months, and the economy has obviously not restarted to anywhere the extent we need it to, there is just a lot less for people to do,” De Blasio said Monday. “We have a real problem here, and I think profoundly the fact that our court system is not functioning, and needs to function again, underlies all of this.”
At least 64 people were shot in New York City between July 3 and July 5, and there were 11 homicides, according to NYPD data.
During the same period last year, there were 21 victims of gun violence, according to information provided by an NYPD spokeswoman.
During the first 28 days of June, there were 250 people shot in the city, a 208% increase over 2019.
Police have pointed to the uptick in shootings to enhance their arguments against reform efforts related to bail and the recently passed anti-chokehold bill, which NYPD Chief of Department Terry Monahan called the “insane diaphragm bill.”
The new law prohibits any action that restricts the flow of air or blood by compressing the windpipe, diaphragm, or the carotid arteries during an arrest.
“It’s a combination of things,” Monahan said of the weekend’s violence. “Bail reform, Covid releases from prisons, the court shutdown which has Rikers of half of where they were last year with the population.”
NYPD precincts Shootings & Homicides
34 3 shot
67 2 males shot, 1DOA
44 male shot
73 2 male shot
77 female shot
67 male shot
32 male shot
44 female shot
69 female shot
28 male shot
75 female & male shot
47 female shot
77 male shot
23 male shot
43 male shot
26 female shot https://t.co/DjZ1sV7pcQ
— SBA (@SBANYPD) July 5, 2020
“I’ve said this before, the animosity towards police out there is tremendous,” he added. “Just about everyone we deal with is looking to fight a police officer.”
The uptick in violence follows an unprecedented time of shutdowns and unrest
For almost all of the first half of 2020, New Yorkers have been living under coronavirus stay-at-home orders, during which thousands lost their jobs.
On top of that, the country spiraled into unrest at the end of May when George Floyd was killed by police on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. His killing launched the nation into protests and conversations about police brutality and reform.
In New York, those conversations and protests lead to the disbandment of the NYPD’s plainclothes anti-crime units last month and the passage of the “Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act.”
Gale Brewer has been Manhattan Borough President for seven years and on the city council for 12 years before that.
She told Insider Monday that this weekend’s shootings – including one that pierced a baby’s bedroom – were the worst she’s ever seen.
“We’re trying to figure out how to have more community centres open,” Brewer said. “It’s never happened before with this number of shootings in northern Manhattan.”
Brewer said that police budget cuts and recent reforms haven’t yet gone into effect. She says the recent wave of violence has likely been spurred by the combined effects of coronavirus shutdowns and the resulting recession.
“It’s guns. It’s the gangs. It’s the lack of jobs, the lack of activities,” she said.
Brewer said that she’s been on the phone all day organising meetings this week to address the violence.
Police, too, have been working with borough leaders to come up with a “realistic” solution, she said.
“This is all hands on deck,” she said. “Police have been working with us. It’s always both sides of the coin. They can’t do the prevention. We need to do the prevention.”
Monahan denied Monday that NYPD is participating in any sort of “slowdown” as a response to the protests.
He did say, though, that the lack of support of police, and reform movements, have some officers “hesitant to enforce some of these quality-of-life issues” in fear that they will end up being prosecuted for actions they took during struggles with suspects.
“Anyone who has ever arrested anyone knows there is a good chance that your knee is going to end up on a suspect’s back in the middle of a violent scuffle,” he said.
“It’s so vital that we get our communities coming together, supporting our cops, speaking up for the police officers that are out there,” Monahan said. “Morale is low. You’re looking at a lot of the rhetoric that is going out there, which is being done by a small minority of people when the vast majority do support our police. We need to know from the communities how they want their neighbourhoods policed.”
De Blasio said there is no way to know which factors have contributed to which crimes: ‘It’s everything together’
On Monday afternoon, the NYPD hosted a briefing to release data around the crimes from June and July.
As a part of it, NYPD leadership said that bail reform and the early release of more than 2,500 people from Rikers Island due to coronavirus concerns are partially responsible for the uptick.
As an example, they said that 275 people of the more than 2,500 released from Rikers have been rearrested 550 times since.
Two people released from Rikers during that time – one of which would otherwise be still committed – have been rearrested on a new murder charge, police said.
Of the 16 killings in July, police attributed 14 of them to gun violence. All shooting victims were members of “minority communities,” NYPD Chief Michael LiPetri said Monday.
“We have 3,000 people have been arrested 9,000 times since the pandemic,” Chief Michael LiPetri said.
So far this year, killings in the city are up 23% since last year – 176 as of June 28 compared to 143 in 2019.
Even so, the city’s homicide rate remains far lower than the mid-1990s and early 2000s.
In 2006, the city saw 255 murders between Jan. 1 and June 28, according to The New York Daily News.
On Monday, De Blasio fielded several questions about how he feels that NYPD and union leadership have blamed the city’s actions for an uptick in violence.
The mayor said that he understands that officers trying to keep the city safe are frustrated. He said the biggest contributor to the spike in violence, though is the closure of courts, which has slowed the follow-though for arrests.
“We, all of us together, have been keeping the city safe. It’s an extraordinarily difficult time in our city’s history,” he said. “The city of New York didn’t ask for the coronavirus to come here, nor for our court system to be shut down.”
“There is a tremendous about of frustration,” he added “It’s impossible to say which factor has which outcome. It’s everything together.”
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