New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, blamed the huge increase in crime in the nation’s largest city on the federal government’s lack of monetary support reported Fox News. De Blasio’s comments came during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday night.
De Blasio said the increase in violent crime in his city was the result of the massive economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. “We are seeing this all over, cities all over the nation. It’s been a massive dislocation. People don’t have jobs. There isn’t school. … You talk about every element of our society, Wolf, this is what’s contributing to this massive surge that we’re all experiencing,” the mayor said. “Let’s be clear, the help we need is to make sure we can keep all of our public services – we’re talking about safety, health, education – they’re all on the line now if we do not get federal support soon.”
Congress has not been able to reach agreement on a new federal coronavirus stimulus package. Democrats and Republicans disagree on the size of the new package as well as its priorities. De Blasio expressed concern about how to pay public employees if a deal doesn’t get done soon. “My challenge is, where am I going to have the people to do this work?” he said. “I may have to do as many layoffs as 22,000 city employees from every department by October 1 if I don’t get federal help.”
There has been a rise in violent crime in New York City all year long. Prior to the current pandemic, major crimes in New York were up 22.5 percent in February over last year’s total, while crime was up 21 percent for both January and February, according to Politico. At the time, de Blasio blamed a new state law that forced authorities to release from custody all those charged with misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies without having to post bail. “There’s a direct correlation to a change in the law, and we need to address it, and we will address it,” de Blasio said. He stressed the need for a change at the state level. “I am absolutely confident this will be addressed. Let’s talk about what is tangibly happening before our eyes. It’s very striking. We know what we have to do about it. Let’s fix it,” he said.
Shootings in New York City through early August recently surpassed the total number of such incidents recorded in 2019. In July alone shootings were up 177% over last year’s total, with murders 59% higher compared to 2019. All boroughs of the city saw higher numbers than last year.
Nationwide calls from groups such as Black Lives Matter to defund police departments led the NYPD to shut down its Anti-Crime Unit and reassign the 600 officers that were a part of it.