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Bill de Blasio walks back statement saying ‘New Yorkers don’t live in fear,’ meant they ‘fight back’

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is retreating from his comments on Wednesday about residents not living in ‘fear,’ acknowledging Thursday that citizens have reasonable anxieties as crime continues to increase.

De Blasio was responding to news of a five-year-old girl who was grazed by a bullet in East New York on Monday, the latest in a string of shocking crimes amid a surge in New York City.

‘First of all, it was horrible what happened to that little five-year-old and thank God she was going to be okay,’ de Blasio said during his media availability on Thursday.

He then pointed towards mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons behind the current ‘challenges’ before launching into broader comments on the subject.

‘We have a lot of challenges we have to overcome, but we overcome them. We went through a horrible, perfect storm last year, everything that could’ve gone wrong, went wrong at once, whether it was the pandemic, the violence, people losing their jobs, schools being closed, and New Yorkers fought through it. 

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On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio appeared to walk back some of his earlier assertions about New Yorkers not living in fear, saying there is fear but citizens ‘fight back’

‘So, is there anxiety? Of course. Is there fear? Yes. I’m not saying there’s not any – I’m saying New Yorkers don’t get intimidated, we fight back, and the comeback you’re seeing this year is obvious and powerful, but we’re going to address all of these issues.’

De Blasio pointed towards mental health resources, gun arrests by the NYPD, and the Cure Violence and Crisis Management System as to how New York is going to turn things around. 

However, a day earlier the mayor had earned a round of criticism by appearing to deny the reality of crime around the city. 

 ‘I think people see these actions and they know that continued help is coming,’ he argued on Wednesday. ‘But New Yorkers don’t live in fear. They keep moving forward. I really believe that. I’ve felt that my whole life here.’

A tale of two statements by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has had very different comments to make about crime and fear in his city over the past couple of days.

Here are his comments in full:

Wednesday, 4/7

‘[Gun violence] clearly won’t be tolerated because for years now we have been changing the whole reality of how we address crime and violence. 

‘We had a horrible disruption last year with a perfect storm of COVID, but the NYPD is out there doing great work, more gun arrests than we’ve had in a quarter century. 

‘So, of course we condemn all violence, but the best way to address violence is by getting guns off the street, which the NYPD is doing, by working with communities more closely, and that’s what our police reform is all about. 

‘Deepening the bond between NYPD and community, and I know that’s going to have a huge impact.

‘I’ve talked to New Yorkers all over the city. They are focused on this city coming back. 

‘I do not believe New Yorkers live in fear. It’s just not who we are. I believe there’s some real issues we have to address. 

‘I believe we’ve seen a serious uptick in gun violence that has to be addressed. It’s going to be addressed. It is being addressed by more gun arrests, by deeper work with communities, more use of and more support for the Cure Violence Movement and the Crisis Management System. 

‘We’ve been talking about these investments and these changes for months now and we’re doing it. So, I think people see these actions and they know that continue to help is coming. 

‘But New Yorkers don’t live in fear. They keep moving forward. I really believe that. I’ve felt that my whole life here.’

Thursday, 4/8    

‘First of all, it was horrible what happened to that little five-year-old and thank God she was going to be okay. 

‘But look, there are places where there’s too much violence and we are going to deal with it. We have to, and there’s clearly a lot of anxiety about COVID. 

‘We’ve been talking about that now for over a year and talking about the mental health support we need to provide to families and provide the children coming back to school. 

‘I think we’ve talked a lot about this and moved a lot of effort and resources to address the mental health challenges.  

‘We have a lot of challenges we have to overcome, but we overcome them. We went through a horrible, perfect storm last year, everything that could’ve gone wrong, went wrong at once, whether it was the pandemic, the violence, people losing their jobs, schools being closed, and New Yorkers fought through it. 

‘So, is there anxiety? Of course. Is there fear? Yes. I’m not saying there’s not any – I’m saying New Yorkers don’t get intimidated, we fight back, and the comeback you’re seeing this year is obvious and powerful, but we’re going to address all of these issues. 

‘The mental health needs of families and kids, the shootings were getting out there, and more and more gun arrests by the NYPD and more cooperation with community and police together and more Cure Violence and Crisis Management System, and we will turn it around.’ 

Just days ago, the NYPD released its latest crime data for March. It showed overall crime went up 2.4 percent compared with the same time last year. But shootings skyrocketed year-over-year, increasing 77 percent, and gun arrests jumped 67 percent from last March.

The rise in violent crime in the city was driven by a 36 percent increase in murders and a 35 percent increase in auto thefts.

Crime appears to be increasing in New York City as more and more people exit various stages of lockdown from the coronavirus pandemic.

The incident with the five-year-old girl occurred around 6pm on Monday night, when a gunman stepped out of a vehicle in East New York and fired six shots towards a man.

The gunman missed the target, but at least one bullet grazed the little girl, who is doing okay after being treated at Brookdale University Hospital.

‘I’m disgusted by the whole neighborhood,’ the girl’s father told the New York Daily News. ‘It put like a slice on her head.’

‘The streets have gotten worse. … that it happened in broad daylight is insane,’ the girl’s mom added.

She also criticized the mayor’s assertion that New Yorkers weren’t living in fear during the crime surge.

‘He’s not really saying anything,’ the mother said. ‘What is his real plan. Is there an actual plan? Is there any plan at all. I don’t really feel safe with shots going off in broad daylight.’

Police are also on the lookout for a suspect who chased a 16-year-old into a building after a shooting before fleeing the scene. 

Meanwhile, the NYPD is asking for the public’s help in identifying a man responsible for a shooting in the Bronx on Sunday.

It took place around 9:05pm when a 16-year-old victim was grazed in the head with a bullet by an assailant who fired multiple times while the victim was walking with friends.

The suspect then chased the victim into a building, where the victim was able to escape before the suspect fled the scene.

The victim was transported to NYC Health & Hospitals/Lincoln, where they were treated and released. 

The two incidents come on the trail of a tourist from Kansas City being grazed by a bullet near Times Square and a retired crime reporter being beaten and bloodied by a random attacker in Harlem.  

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Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City citizens aren’t leaving in fear on Wednesday

The data shows crime in the city increasing from recent years

The data shows crime in the city increasing from recent years

The data shows crime in the city increasing from recent years

Kansas City tourist shot in the shoulder by a STRAY BULLET

Chris Ruby, 44, was struck by gunfire as he walked down West 38th Street in Manhattan in the early hours of Wednesday morning, returning to his hotel after watching a baseball game.

The Missouri native was rushed to nearby Bellevue Hospital where he was treated for the gunshot wound, which fractured both his collarbone and his shoulder blade.  

Pictured: Chris Ruby, who is recovering after being hit by crossfire in the shoulder

Pictured: Chris Ruby, who is recovering after being hit by crossfire in the shoulder

Pictured: Chris Ruby, who is recovering after being hit by crossfire in the shoulder

Police say they believe Ruby was not the intended target of the shooting, and that he was simply caught in the crossfire.

Purported gang member Brannovan Martinez, 21, was arrested over the incident late Wednesday and has been charged with assault, criminal use of a firearm and reckless endangerment. He has multiple prior arrests for drugs and assaults.   

 On Wednesday, Kansas City tourist Chris Ruby, 44, was shot as he walked down West 38th Street in Manhattan.

The Missouri native was rushed to nearby Bellevue Hospital where he was treated for the gunshot wound, which fractured both his collarbone and his shoulder blade.  

‘I felt this huge pain in my shoulder,’ Ruby told ABC 7 after he was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday evening. 

‘I [then] took off my jacket, and there was blood everywhere. It was really bad.’ 

Police say they believe Ruby was not the intended target of the shooting, and that he was simply caught in the crossfire. 

Purported gang member Brannovan Martinez, 21, was arrested over the incident late Wednesday and has been charged with assault, criminal use of a firearm and reckless endangerment. He has multiple prior arrests for drugs and assaults.    

And on Easter Sunday, retired channel 9 crime reporter Judith Thomas was walking to meet her sister when a stranger struck her with ‘a hellacious punch’ on the corner of West 119th Street and Lenox Avenue in Harlem.

Thomas was left with swollen cheeks and lips, as well as a pronounced bruise on her face. 

The mayor did acknowledge that since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the city has experienced a ‘serious uptick’ in gun violence. 

Still, he praised the New York City Police Department for its ‘great work’ getting guns off the streets and making arrests. 

Aside from assaults, when it comes to the most recent crime statistics, there were 99 shooting incidents in March 2021, compared to 56 a year ago, representing an increase of nearly 77 percent.

 There were also 492 gun arrests citywide last month, which is an increase of nearly 67 percent compared to March 2020.

Despite the statistics, De Blasio said Wednesday that he’s convinced that deepening the bond between the NYPD and communities would have a ‘huge impact’ on reducing crime rates in the city. 

It’s worth noting that more people were in lockdown during the spring of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Budget cuts to the police force could be related to the recent surge in crime the city has seen.

In June, de Blasio announced a $1 billion cut to the NYPD’s budget.

Meanwhile, candidates to be the next mayor of New York City have varying thoughts on how to handle the crime wave.

Maya Wiley’s platform includes an $18 million cut to the NYPD, as well as a reduction in cadet class size by 2,250.

Chris Ruby was hit by a bullet in his shoulder near Times Square on Wednesday

Chris Ruby was hit by a bullet in his shoulder near Times Square on Wednesday

Chris Ruby was hit by a bullet in his shoulder near Times Square on Wednesday

Judith Thomas, 75, was beaten by a random attacker on Easter Sunday

Judith Thomas, 75, was beaten by a random attacker on Easter Sunday

Police are still looking for her attacker

Police are still looking for her attacker

Judith Thomas (left), 75, was beaten by a random attacker (right) on Easter Sunda

According to the New York Post, Dianne Morales is open to cutting the NYPD budget by up to $3 billion. 

Scott Stringer, meantime, wants to disband the Strategic Response Group’s Disorder Control Unit, which has served as the riot police during racial unrest.

Crime in the city was declining in recent years, with March 2019 being the best March in the city during the CompStat era.

There was a 6.2 percent decrease in index crime from the same month of the previous year. 

Murders dropped by 27.3 percent, rapes fell by 3.8 percent, robberies decreased by 6.7 percent, and burglaries were down 17.5 percent. 

New Yorker, 75, sucker-punched in broad daylight on Easter Sunday

Judith Thomas was the victim of a random attack on Easter Sunday in Harlem.

She was sucker-punched by a complete stranger, leaving her with swollen cheeks and lips, as well as a bruise on her face.

Thomas pointed towards homelessness and mental health crises in New York City as the cause of her attack, as well as racial and economic inequity.

The attacker, meanwhile, remains unidentified and at-large.

Judith Thomas was left with a swollen and bruised face following her attack on Sunday

Judith Thomas was left with a swollen and bruised face following her attack on Sunday

Judith Thomas was left with a swollen and bruised face following her attack on Sunday

Thomas spoke to DailyMail.com about her harrowing ordeal, expressing shock about the attack while praising those who came to her aid.

‘All these wonderful people came to help me… It was really good to know New Yorkers cared,’ Thomas said.

Still, she didn’t understand the motive behind the attack.

‘This was crazy, this attack. It made no sense. He didn’t say anything to me, he didn’t go for my purse, nothing. It was just acting out in sheer anger and hostility … and I think we need resources in this city to deal with the problems so that people have hope instead of desperation.’

‘We used to joke about carrying mugger money so you give the $20 to the mugger. This is something totally different, this is random violence. It’s directed against different ethnic groups and that’s horrifying, because this is a city in which many different ethnic groups live together very peaceably.’

While the attack was frightening, Thomas has no plans to live in fear following her assault.

‘This is my city, it’s not their city. I refuse to be afraid. I just refuse to let them intimidate me.’ 


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bourbiza

Bourbiza Mohamed. Writer and Political Discourse Analysis.

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