Judicial Watch has been documenting rising social disorder in New York City at the hands of Mayor Bill de Blasio and radical activists in Albany and Washington. Last year, Democrats rammed through the state legislature a reform package that eliminated cash bail for a wide range of offenses—from assault, arson and child abuse to manslaughter, robbery and riot—and removed judicial discretion in holding suspects. Advocates for the measure correctly note that bail often discriminates against the poor—if you can’t afford bail, you sit in jail. But bail also offered a way to hold repeat offenders, including violent ones, behind bars until trial.
The reform legislation took effect January 1 and crime rates jumped. Numbers just in for the first two months of 2020 show a 35 percent increase in robberies and a 64 percent increase in stolen cars compared to the same period in 2019, the New York Post reports. Shootings, up 19 percent. Burglaries, up 21 percent.
Subway robberies are up sharply, with an increase of more than 100 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. NYPD insiders say subway robberies are largely driven by repeat juvenile offenders targeting other kids. A subway security official tells Judicial Watch that crime underground is widespread. In the city’s school system—the biggest in the country—parents speak with anguish about assaults on their children. And anti-Semitic hate crimes are significantly up in the city with America’s largest Jewish population.
All this has contributed to a growing sense of unease in New York. The politics of bail reform pit New York’s rising progressive forces against a cadre of Democrats who recognize a looming disaster when they see it. At a contentious town hall meeting last month in Forest Hills, Queens, de Blasio rejected complaints about links between rising crime and bail reform as “right-wing propaganda,” but he supports fixes to the law being pushed in Albany. Progressive firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is on the other side of the Democrat debate, calling on Albany to “slow down” on any legislative changes. By “slow down,” of course she means do nothing. If Ocasio-Cortez and her allies had their way, prisons would be entirely abolished. The outcome of the bail reform fight will say a lot about progressive power in Albany.
Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost seven to one in New York City, so don’t hold your breath waiting for conservative reform. But there are straws in the wind that suggest change might be stirring. One is the surprisingly vigorous campaign of veteran prosecutor Jim Quinn for Queens borough president. Quinn beat his five rivals for the post in the latest fundraising reports and has been making waves with his criticism of liberal excesses such as the bail reform law and the closing of the Rikers Island jail complex. On Twitter, Quinn called out Ocasio-Cortez and her allies for their “dangerous, radical agenda” and for “ignoring double digit crime spikes & the victims impacted.”
Them’s fightin’ words in New York. The election is March 24 in a field crowded with liberal contenders surfing the progressive wave. But Quinn’s conservative message may resonate with a different sort of voter—like the one who told Bill de Blasio at the Forest Hills town hall meeting, “Mr. Mayor, I do not feel safe.”
Micah Morrison is chief investigative reporter for Judicial Watch. Follow him on Twitter @micah_morrison. Tips: firstname.lastname@example.org
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