These are hard days for New York City. Bullets travel the streets. The blood of innocent New Yorkers runs as criminals watch and laugh at the unprecedented levels of insecurity and at the justice systems that refuse to impose an iron fist against them, unequivocally generating more violence, crime, and terror in “the city that never sleeps.”
While the City’s current mayor, Eric Adams, deploys a security plan aimed at fighting lawlessness, criminality continues to prevail. In February 2022 alone, major crimes in NYC increased nearly 60% compared to the same month in 2021. In March of this year, the city’s overall crime rate increased by 36.5%, compared to the same period last year.
Such insecurity lies also in the psyche of the average New Yorker, who evidently worries about his and his family’s lives.
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“I definitely fear for my son at times and, as far as the crime wave is concerned, we need to bring back stop-and-frisk and other policies that former Mayor Rudy Giuliani had in place when he cleaned up the entire city and crime was at an all-time low,” Eric Ortiz, a Bronx resident who works in Manhattan and takes public transportation daily, told El American.
“I no longer feel as safe as I once did, I also fear for my daughter’s safety, especially with the huge increase in crimes throughout the city,” expressed a female Harlem resident who preferred to remain anonymous. “Better preventive measures needed to be in place. Crime prevention programs, neighborhood watches and our own NYPD aren’t cutting it. We need a long-term plan or strategy that focuses on cleaning up the city, reducing crime and making America safe and great again.”
Beyond the mere statistics, in 2022 New York has experienced firsthand a series of subway attacks that frighten citizens. For example, the murder of an Asian woman who was pushed onto the train tracks by a homeless man in January or the shooting at Brooklyn’s 59th Street station that has so far left 23 people injured.
That shooting, especially, was a blow to the city’s residents, especially those who must take the subway to their jobs, schools and homes.
New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin best described this sense of latent insecurity facing New York: “Subway terror is the stuff of nightmares — and a banner day for the owners of moving companies. Helping people get out of Dodge already is a booming business, and nothing spreads the determination to escape New York faster than the fear of being trapped in the subway with a madman with a gun and a sack full of explosives and smoke cannisters.”
“The 40 or 50 people actually in the attacker’s N-train car are stand-ins for the other 8.8 million people who are now terrified themselves. Everyone is realizing that they or someone they love could have been there. Just to imagine the possibility makes the heart beat faster,” the columnist added.
Goodwin recalled in his piece a Sunset Park man who told a TV reporter: “Who wants to live in a city like this? […] Nobody wants to live like this no more.”
“Indeed. Nobody wants to live in the city New York is becoming,” Goodwin wrote. Goodwin also lucidly explains that right now New York City needs to be saved from the wave of violence and only two people can accomplish that mission are Governor Kathy Hochul—a Democrat who promised to throw the state’s full resources to curb shootings in New York—and Mayor Adams, who is already beginning to be questioned for having completed his first 100 days in office and failing to establish a clear plan to combat crime.
One of Adams’ plans to combat insecurity is precisely to escort out the homeless who take refuge in the subway. New York has become one of the cities with the highest number of homeless individuals in the U.S., which has directly contributed to the feeling of danger and insecurity in the subway.
However, there are New Yorkers, such as Jason Santiago, a Bronx resident and graduate of the City College of New York, who see these efforts as insufficient to fight crime and end the serious problem of homelessness in the city.
“There is definitely a ton of homelessness that can be seen on the regular basis and that’s a metric I would use to evaluate the Governor and NYC Mayor. Especially the mayor, considering his tactic is to push people out of the public eye rather than comprehensively addressing the issue,” Santiago told El American.
Can Adams and Hochul save a decaying New York City?
NBC News, in a report following the New York subway shooting, explained that the return to normalcy in the city is in question after two years of a pandemic due to the wave of insecurity.
Although people want to return to daily life, even encouraged by the authorities, the sense of danger, the economic decline of New York and the rise of teleworking is causing fewer users to travel by subway, fewer people to transit the streets and “the city that never sleeps”, little by little, is shutting down.
Fear, especially, is gaining strength among citizens.
“I, like so many mothers and citizens who live in NYC, don’t have the option of getting around in our own car, we have to use public transportation, both trains and buses, and I feel worried and a scared,” Ana Cornelio, a Dominican-American engineer who resides in The Bronx but works in Queens, told El American.
“There are unforeseen events that are inevitable and that we can’t control. There is a lot of police at the train stations nowadays. That was the case before, but not as much as now, after the subway shooting. I am more attentive to everything that happens around me and I can only pray to God. The governor should allocate more of the budget to mental health. With the pandemic and inflation many people are affected emotionally, physically, and financially,” she added.
In Goodwin’s opinion, it’s Adams and Hochul’s duty to do what they can to save the city before it is too late. To do that, he says, the first thing they must do is to let go of political ties and calculations, letting go of the hand of progressives and their soft-handed policies, something that looks really complex.
The second (and far more difficult) is to act with determination.
“If the governor and mayor sincerely want to crush the crime epidemic, they must think and act like wartime commanders. This is a war for the survival of New York and there are no partial victories. It’s win or lose,” Goodwin sentenced.