This Op-Ed originally appeared in the Staten Island Advance
Friday night’s anti-police demonstrations in downtown Brooklyn are just the latest example of New York City’s return to the bad old days. A slow slip into civil disorder under the banners of social justice by leftists who feel that mass transit should be free, all jails should be closed, and that the NYPD should be disarmed or even abolished.
Their actions have been enabled by a brand of elected officials that I like to call regressive progressives; individuals whose forward looking left-wing plans have merely returned us to a time of high-taxes, rising crime and polices that take political correctness to new levels of absurdity while totaling disregarding even the slightest example of common sense.
Friday’s outburst was a protest against the NYPD’s recent effort to crack-down on fare beaters in the subway system and an excuse to taunt New York’s Finest for their alleged racism; a surprising approach when you all you have to is look at officers on patrol to appreciate the obvious diversity of the department.
With chants and signs that included, “How do you spell racist-N-Y-P-D,” “F—K the Police” and “Punch that Cop.” The demonstration soon devolved into anarchy that resulted in traffic being blocked, stand-offs with the police, vandalism and an episode of fare beating en masse, when hundreds of protesters jumped the turnstiles at the Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station.
Yet, much to the chagrin of the demonstrators, there were no displays of police brutality or overreaction and only one demonstrator was arrested; she scrawled “PIGS” on a police car, while another was given a summons for spitting on an officer.
By Saturday, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez weighed in by tweeting, “Ending mass incarceration means challenging a system that jails the poor to free the rich.” A near comical statement when you consider that the penalty for fare beating is a fine and that every ride on the financially troubled subway system is highly subsidized by the businesses, wealthy individuals and homeowners who pay the bulk of our city and state taxes. She went on to offer up an ill-conceived theory that prosecution of fare-beaters “destabilizes our communities.”
Monday morning dawned and by lunchtime the word was out that Police Commissioner James O’Neil was retiring from the department and headed to the private sector. A departure that leaves an obvious question; did he jump or was he pushed? Who could blame him for leaving when the mayor and the majority of the City Council refuse to back-up the NYPD and who would be surprised if he was pushed out the door by a mayor who is famous for blaming others for the numerous failures of his administration?
I wish our new commissioner, Dermot Shea, the best of luck; he’s a highly respected 28-year veteran of the NYPD, who started as a beat cop and rose through the ranks to his most recent post as chief of detectives. Sadly, Commissioner Shea has to deal with Mayor de Blasio, who seems incapable of understanding that criminals need to be prosecuted for their crimes, not rewarded. An attitude that was put on full display with the news that broke late Sunday that 900 Rikers Island inmates, many charged with felonies, may be released before the new bail reform legislation takes effect in January. If that isn’t disturbing enough, the mayor wants to shower them incentives such as Mets tickets, movie tickets and gift cards to make sure they return for their court date. In other words he’s rewarding criminals for breaking the law and in the process totally undercutting the criminal justice system and the taxpayers who fund it.
In addition, Commissioner Shea will constantly face the tweets of AOC and her revolutionary chorus, the same collective of elected officials, community activists and socialist operatives that managed to kill the Amazon deal in Queens and the 25,000 good paying jobs that came with it. They’ve joined forces with Mayor de Blasio to close down Rikers Island and relocate its inmates to four new high-rise jails located in every borough except Staten Island. But it won’t end there, and as Mayor de Blasio’s term winds-down, expect them to continue on their mission to handcuff our police, hobble our criminal justice system and coddle the criminals.
The city is in a downward spiral for sure. Lenient Judges continually release bad guys back onto our street, liberal politicians trip over themselves to cater to criminals, and a growing disrespect for law and order and a clear-cut air of hostility towards the NYPD are clearly disturbing trends. It’s up to law-abiding citizens to stand up and speak out; hold the mayor, the governor and elected judges and officials accountable. Remind them that the first responsibility of any government is the protection of its citizens.