Back to the Future in New York City
Does New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio not understand that forbidding the police to engage in the stop and frisk policies instituted by Mayor Giuliani and continued by Mayor Bloomberg will lead to an increase in crime? Does he not care about the victims of those crimes? These are genuine and serious questions, because the consequences of de Blasio’s policies are starting to be felt.
Writing in National Review, Kevin Williamson discusses his own experiences in de Blasio’s new New York that sounds a lot like David Dinkins’ old New York.
It’s been a year since New York City adopted Local Law 71 with the enthusiastic support of Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who is now mayor of the city. Local Law 71, the so-called Community Safety Act, used the possibility of endless civil-rights litigation to gut the city’s “stop, question, and frisk” procedure for dealing with street-level crime, and Mr. de Blasio campaigned energetically on the issue, charging that the New York Police Department had “unfairly targeted young African-American and Latino men.”
I have a theory that criminals keep up with the news, perhaps by osmosis.
Indeed they do, and they don’t need newspapers, TVs, or the internet. They just see the behavior of cops and react accordingly, unleashing their demons in the knowledge that the consequences formerly anticipated no longer will apply. I used to spend a lot of time in New York City in the late 1970s and 80s, when a dystopian movie like Escape from New York touched the public’s nerve, spawning a genre of “Escape from…” movies about a society falling apart into near-anarchy. These times may be about to reappear.
Violent crime around the city is up significantly. Central Park muggings and casual, racially motivated assaults are back in the news. In a city in which it is well-nigh impossible for me to carry a gun legally (I have held concealed-carry permits in other jurisdictions), shootings are up 12 percent. We are seeing increasingly Chicago-style headlines: Over one mid-August weekend, 21 people were shot.
In 2012, there were no rapes in Central Park. By September of 2013, a month after the Community Safety Act was passed, there had been a half dozen, and felonies in the park were up 10 percent. Misdemeanor sex crimes in the park rose by 100 percent. Concession-stand workers were robbed at knifepoint, and this past weekend a woman was shot in the head with an airgun by a gang of black teens shouting, “White people suck!”
Densely populated, racially and economically diverse, and full of energy, New York City can be very, very good (when people know that crime will be punished and achievement rewarded) or very, very bad (when criminals don’t fear consequences and as a result, achievers hightail it out of town to Palm Beach or some other lower-taxed and safer precincts). It all depends on the leadership of the city and especially of the courts and police.
Bill de Blasio’s policy changes have highly predictable consequences. He doesn’t seem like a stupid man, so I have to assume he realizes there will be more murders, more rapes, more robberies, and more open racial attacks. I guess those are an acceptable price to pay for his version of utopia.
For most people, this amounts to something closer to a dystopia. As Williamson notes:
When there’s trouble in the city, it isn’t normally the people with resources who really suffer — we have a choice about whether to be here or somewhere else. Cities such as Detroit and Cleveland have inflicted enough man-made disasters on their populations that the people with sufficient incentive and means have simply left, with consequences that are now impossible to miss when visiting either city.