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NYC Mayor Eric Adams tells families of crime victims that he will crack down on surging violence 

NYC Mayor Eric Adams tells families of crime victims that he will crack down on surging violence  2

New York City Mayor Eric Adams spoke directly to the families of recent crime victims in his State of the City speech on Tuesday, vowing to crack down on surging violence in the city.  

‘New Yorkers have a right to be angry, a right to expect more — to feel safe, to be safe, to know that your city is looking out for you, your family, and those in need,’ Adams said in his speech after his first 100 days in office have been plagued by skyrocketing crime. 

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The former New York City police captain took office this year with a central focus on making the city feel safe and trying to return it to some sense of normalcy post-pandemic.

His speech came after Adams finalized his nearly $100 billion budget, which earmarked millions toward mental health and building affordable housing but did not designate money to hire more cops.

Felony assaults are up 21 percent than at the same time in 2021, robbery is up nearly 47 percent, rape is up nearly 15 percent, and the percentage of shooting victims is up eight percent, according to the latest statistics from the city’s police department. Murders are down just 13 percent. 

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The mayor pointed out that hate crimes continue to be directed at Asian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, and LGBTQ+ New Yorkers.

‘Our sister Michelle Go was pushed to her death in front of a train in an act of horrifying hatred,’ he said, adding that dozens more of ‘our New York City neighbors’ have been killed by gun violence.

Adams named several of the victims, including an aspiring rapper who was executed in cold blood, a 19-year-old girl was killed as she worked the night shift in East Harlem and two police officers who were shot dead responding to a call.

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‘Their names will echo in our hearts forever: Kristal, Jayquan, Kade, Sally, Angellyah. Detectives Wilbert Mora and Jason Rivera,’ he said, pointing out that many of the victims’ families were at the speech on Tuesday. 

‘I can only imagine the loss you feel and the pain you live with,’ he told them. ‘But I will not rest until we have addressed the conditions that led to that loss. We will do what is necessary to make all of our communities safe. You have my word, as a former police officer, a fellow New Yorker, and your mayor.’

New York City Mayor Eric Adams spoke directly to the families of recent crime victims in his first 100 days in office speech, vowing to crack down on surging violence in the city

New York City Mayor Eric Adams spoke directly to the families of recent crime victims in his first 100 days in office speech, vowing to crack down on surging violence in the city

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Adams took office this year with a central focus on making the city feel safe, but violent crime rates have climbed since the pandemic, according to crime stats (pictured)

Adams took office this year with a central focus on making the city feel safe, but violent crime rates have climbed since the pandemic, according to crime stats (pictured) 

The mayor’s speech was full of hope and promises on Tuesday, but the first 3 1/2 months of his administration have been beset by a string of high-profile violent incidents, with last week’s shooting on a subway train the most terrifying and public of all.

The morning rush-hour attack, in which 10 people were shot on a system that serves as the arteries of New York, complicates Adams’ push to address crime and persuade people that the city of nearly 9 million is safe. It also occurred amid a broader, multi-year debate about policing and crime, and how the city should respond.

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The mayor has been among Democrats who’ve pushed back on calls from liberals to cut police budgets and instead route resources to social services, and he has sought to bring back some controversial policing tactics, saying they can be employed as useful tools without a return to past abuses.

In his speech at Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre, Adams unveiled a $99.7 billion revised budget plan, with much of the money geared toward homeless services, mental health programs, affordable housing and education. 

‘There are four main areas that we will focus on as we go forward: protecting our people, growing our economy, uplifting our youth, and building our infrastructure,’ he said, adding that the new budget reflects those values and provides for them.

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The budget also includes funding for a ‘Blueprint to End Gun Violence,’ a ‘plan to confront increased crime with strategic focus and realistic solutions.’

‘The plan ensures the NYPD is laser-focused on apprehending the small number of individuals responsible for the majority of gun trafficking and shootings in our city,’ he said. 

In partnership with President Biden, Governor Hochul, and law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal levels, Adams said they are working to ‘cut off the flow of illegal guns into our city and crack down on repeat offenders.’

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The budget includes $55 million to expand the B-HEARD program, which stands for Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division. The program is comprised of EMTs and mental health professionals that respond to 911 calls involving mental health issues.

Adams also detailed that things that have been accomplished in his first 100 days – highlighting that they have taken nearly 2,300 guns off the street.

‘We have added more than 50,000 jobs in the first three months of this year, significantly outpacing the national average,’ he said, adding that the unemployment rate dropped to 6.5 percent in March, down from 7.4 percent in December 2021.

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Adams also said that hotel room demand is now at 86 percent of pre-pandemic levels, up from 63 percent in January of this year.

‘We have ensured more than 97 percent of adults in New York City have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine,’ he said. ‘Ninety-seven percent — that’s a number to be proud of.’

Adams said school attendance had increased by nearly 70 percent and there continues to be low levels of COVID reported in schools.

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‘We have added nearly 1,000 new beds for homeless New Yorkers, moved 2,500 families into shelter, and placed another 2,700 New Yorkers into subsidized housing,’ he concluded.

‘But this is only the start of our efforts to revitalize and rebuild this city,’ he said. 

Since Adams took office Jan. 1, he’s been speaking about policing and crime frequently, as the list of frightening incidents piled up quickly.

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The city saw a rash of random shootings, the killing of two police officers and attacks that included a woman – Michelle Go – shoved to her death in front of a train by a stranger.

Michelle Go, 40, was died after being pushed by Martial Simon, 61, who is homeless

Michelle Go, 40, was died after being pushed by Martial Simon, 61, who is homeless

NYC Mayor Eric Adams, 61, spoke at her vigil (pictured) and said the city couldn't go back to being filled with violent crime. Crime has only continued to rise since Go's death

NYC Mayor Eric Adams, 61, spoke at her vigil (pictured) and said the city couldn’t go back to being filled with violent crime. Crime has only continued to rise since Go’s death 

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‘This has been particularly brutal. And I feel for him. I think he´s done a fine job, especially as he´s just getting used to it,’ said Adams´ predecessor and fellow Democrat, Bill de Blasio.

Most of the violence the city has experienced has not been in the subways but in neighborhoods, particularly in communities of color. But attacks on the subway, a vital sprawling network millions of New Yorkers rely upon, loom large in public perceptions of safety.

Adams rode the subway to City Hall on his first day as mayor, calling 911 to report a fight near the train platform before he even boarded the train. He admitted later that he didn´t feel safe on the train after encountering a yelling passenger and several homeless people, and said the city needs to tackle ‘actual crime’ and ‘the perception of crime.’

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Adams had already announced plans earlier this year to boost the number of police officers on subway platforms and trains and to address crime generally. He has brought back a controversial police anti-gun unit, called for help from the federal government cracking down on ghost guns and pushed for changes to New York´s bail laws.

Critics contend that focusing just on beefing up police isn´t a solution to making the city safe, but more investment is needed in mental health programs and other social services.

Jayquan McKenley, 18, who went by the name Chii Wvttz, was shot dead outside a recording studio in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood earlier this year

Jayquan McKenley, 18, who went by the name Chii Wvttz, was shot dead outside a recording studio in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood earlier this year

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Growing up, drill rapper Jayquan McKenley, 18, went to five different high schools and programs as a teenager missed hundreds of days of school

Growing up, drill rapper Jayquan McKenley, 18, went to five different high schools and programs as a teenager missed hundreds of days of school

Frank James, the 62-year-old suspect in the Brooklyn subway shooting, spoke of his own mental health struggles in a series of YouTube videos in which he described going in and out of mental health facilities, including some in New York City.

Before Tuesday´s attack, Adams had started sending out social work teams to try to connect people on the streets with mental health help and other services. The mayor also announced plans to significantly expand a summer youth job program designed to put young people in paid jobs when school is on break, with the aim of diverting them from activities that could lead to arrest or violence.

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After last week´s subway shooting, Adams, in a series of interviews, discussed plans to increase the number of police officers patrolling the subways and suggested metal detectors could be installed in stations – a decision that ultimately would rest with the transit authority, which falls under state control.

Frank James, the 62-year-old suspect in the Brooklyn subway shooting, spoke of his own mental health struggles in a series of YouTube videos

Frank James, the 62-year-old suspect in the Brooklyn subway shooting, spoke of his own mental health struggles in a series of YouTube videos 

Frantic commuters were seen trying to run for the exits after a gunman opened fire at a Brooklyn subway station on Tuesday morning

Frantic commuters were seen trying to run for the exits after a gunman opened fire at a Brooklyn subway station on Tuesday morning

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Danny Pearlstein, a spokesman for the nonprofit Riders Alliance representing New York City bus and subway passengers, said that despite a high-profile incident like the shooting, the subway is still the safest way to get around the city, with traffic accidents and pedestrians being struck by cars a far more likely hazard.

Rather than explore metal detectors and other ways to scrutinize passengers, he said New York needs a better transit system overall that gets more people on board and provides safety with strength in numbers.

‘By having transit that is faster and more reliable and gets to more places that people want to go is a way to boost ridership,’ he said.

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De Blasio praised Adams´ attempts to address both crime and perceptions of crime, and said public safety experts recommend the best way to make the city feel safe is ‘more normalcy, more recovery from COVID.’

Getting people back on trains and back in the city is not just a reminder of New York’s resiliency, but also an added layer of eyes and ears to compliment the police, the former mayor said.

Jason Rivera

Wilbert Mora

Among this year’s dead are NYPD cops Jason Rivera, left, and Wilbert Mora, right, who were both shot and killed by a suspect in January

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NYC Mayor Eric Adams tells families of crime victims that he will crack down on surging violence  3

‘The overall reality is NYPD has actually done a very good job over the years of making the subway safer and safer,’ he said. ‘Police can do so much, but they can´t do it alone. They need eyes and ears – and cooperation of the public.’

Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said it’s difficult to have a discussion about how to prevent Tuesday’s shooting without knowing more about the alleged perpetrator and his motivation and mental health, and that makes it difficult to link it to a broader examination of other violent crime in New York.

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‘One of the challenges with crime is you can get three people shot in one night and they´re all shot for different reasons that have different solutions and different responses,’ Quinn said.

She said Adams, with his law enforcement background, understands that crime and criminals are not one-size-fits-all. And while guns may be involved in a lot of crimes and more illegal guns need to be taken off the street, other incidents can stem from gang issues, mental health issues or other factors.

Confronting crime generally requires a multi-faceted response, she said, and help from many layers of government.

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‘There are very few things that one elected official can fix alone,’ she said. ‘Even in a big city like New York, a lot of what exists here is also controlled by the state and the feds.’

‘But there is no bigger bully pulpit and convening power-short of the president of the United States-than that of the mayor of the city of New York. And we know Eric Adams is not afraid to use that,’ she said.

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