New York’s newest mayor, Eric Adams, had promised to improve security in the largest city in the United States. The first three weeks of his tenure were marked by gun violence, increasing the pressure on this former police officer.
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On Friday, a 22-year-old police officer was killed and another seriously injured in a shooting in the Harlem neighborhood. A test for Mr. Adams, whose plan to curb the crime that he decried so much during his campaign is still awaited.
“It’s our city against the murderers,” the Democratic mayor said Friday night from the Harlem hospital where the officers, who were responding to a call from a mother confronted with an abusive son, were taken.
Among the recent violence, one incident particularly marked the spirits: an 11-month-old girl was injured in the cheek by a stray bullet in the Bronx, while she was in a stationary car with her mother.
“I’m going to roll out a real plan this week when I talk to the people of New York, and we’re going to tackle the root causes” of crime, promised Eric Adams, 61, Sunday on CNN.
We see “a sea of crime that has been fed by many rivers”, and “we must put a dam on each of these rivers”, he launched.
In addition to the proliferation of weapons, the Covid-19 pandemic and its social and economic consequences have fueled this violence, which will surely be at the heart of an upcoming confrontation between the new mayor and the left wing of his party in about funding the police and ways to fight crime.
Eric Adams, a member of the right wing of the Democratic Party and a firm supporter of strict policing, is indeed preparing to negotiate the new budget of the city.
He said this week he plans to keep the police and its more than $5 billion budget out of the city’s cost-cutting measures.
What anger those who campaign to reduce the funding of the police with the slogan “Defund the police”.
Left-leaning City Council member Kristin Richardson Jordan won in her Harlem constituency campaigning for alternative public safety systems to traditional policing.
She said her sadness after the death of the police officer on Friday, saying that “the death of police officers is not that, the abolition (of the police, editor’s note). Abolition is the end of all violence”.
Fighting the “tide of arms”
Police recorded 488 homicides in the city of 9 million last year, up 4.3% from 2020. Jeffrey Butts of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, however, notes that he 25 years ago, the number of homicides in New York was four times higher than today.
He says he disagrees with the principle of “Defund the police”, but he asserts that allocating “more funds to the police is not an adequate response”.
“How are these resources used? What purpose ? What is the strategy?” he asks. “The basis of our approach must be the economic well-being, the health and well-being of the population, which is a subject of much broader public policy debate.”
For Congressman Adriano Espaillat, whose constituency includes Harlem and parts of the Bronx, “the federal government must play a central role” in the fight against violence. The elected official spoke on Saturday of the need for a law requiring more rigorous background checks when buying weapons.
Ken Sherrill, emeritus professor of political science at Hunter College, said the mayor must present his plan without delay, because it is time to “shape public opinion”.
“It gives the mayor a huge opportunity and if he doesn’t take it, I’m sure he will regret it,” he said.
On Saturday, Eric Adams had already insisted on the need to “deal with the flow of weapons”, an essential part of his strategy according to him.
Without that, he had hammered, “we are wasting our time”.