One Johnny Grima, who has been arrested five times on the East Village block, has alleged that “police are willing to spend money to attack homeless people.”
“They’re willing to spend all this money to attack homeless people, but they’re not willing to spend that same money on apartments for homeless people,” Grima said.
Grima’s story is indicative of the enforcement-heavy approach Mayor Adams is taking to the city’s crises.
Mayor Eric Adams has deployed officers to address the proliferation of guns and violence. He said on Wednesday, “New Yorkers should be living in a safe city right now, based on the actions of the police department.”
But also having police detain people for nonviolent offenses and unlicensed food-vending.
“Next day is propane tanks being on the subway system, next day is barbequing on the subway system. You just can’t do that,” Adams said Monday after a food vendor was arrested at a subway station.
Some activists, everyday New Yorkers and elected officials are more critical than others, speaking out from the stage of an abortion rights rally or a City Council hearing on the NYPD’s budget.
“Mayor cop Adams cut and reduced, every agency has been cut, except for NYPD,” Council Member Charles Barron said of agencies’ effectiveness, noting that crime is on the rise.
But very few have said, as Adams alleges, that NYPD isn’t needed at all.
Most have said solutions to street violence must involve more non-police resources.
“When we spend more of our time, energy and effort, resources on consequences and accountability and less on preventing it from happening in the first place, we don’t get the desired results,” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said.
“Not to say that folks are not in fear of gun violence and the current status of what’s happening in our communities, but they also are in fear of police officers,” said Maya Williams of the Brooklyn Movement Center.
Several problems facing the city are institutional, with no quick solutions, as desperately as they’re needed.
Adams, who was a reformer and whistleblower within the NYPD, has insisted that his version of law enforcement isn’t the same as the unconstitutional versions of the past.
“I don’t believe in broken-windows policing,” he said. “I believe in not allowing the quality of life to erode in our city.”
“I don’t support solitary confinement,” he explained last month, describing more Department of Correction funding needed for “punitive segregation.”
With civilians and police being hurt and killed by gun violence, the mayor has no tolerance of NYPD critics.
“Who the hell will protect the innocent New Yorkers in this city?” he asked early Wednesday from Lincoln Hospital where a shot cop was being treated.
A reporter recently noted that Adams himself was once among those sounding the alarm on the NYPD’s alleged abuses of power.
“I was not criticizing police. I was criticizing bad practices,” he responded.