Is New York City about to witness a reemergence of the “Broken Windows” policing policy under the city’s second Black mayor because of concerns regarding the violent crime wave we’re witnessing here–and across the country during this COVID crisis?
Sadly, that appears to be the coming reality.
Mayor Eric Adams has claimed this isn’t the case. However, information reportedly from inside the NYPD suggests that Broken Windows, rebranded, will be back in full force.
In a New York Post editorial, (which talks about a “de facto revival of the Broken Windows policing”) they report that a Brooklyn NYPD supervisor says that “Now Chief of Department Kenneth Corey has ordered 100-plus top supervisors to stop the bleeding by putting extra cops on patrol ‘to engage with quality-of-life infractions and criminals.” The “quality of life” language is the telltale phrase here and apparently there will be a renewed focus on minor infractions. Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell while insisting that there will be no return to Stop-and-Frisk said, “We are focusing on the people, the places, the things that lead to criminality and lead to violence and deteriorate the quality of life for everyday New Yorkers.”
More over-policing seems to be the focus—not economic empowerment of historically oppressed communities.
Black New York City already traumatized over the last two years by the COVID pandemic, on top of chronic historic governmental neglect, is about to be flooded with brutal policing in the name of containing the crime wave.”Tough on crime” violent policing, to appease white fears and hysteria, is always the primary prescription we hear from mainstream politicians when the topic of fighting crime comes up. But the economic funding that is really needed most to address the main source of the crime is given nothing more than lip service.
Somehow, politicians can always find funding to fight crime–but can never find funding to prevent it.
This is the kind of leadership we’re plagued with. And many of our Black, and supposedly more enlightened, leaders are often no better than the white peers they follow.
Former Mayor Bill de Blasio claimed he was a progressive that would change police culture inside the NYPD. His first progressive policing act was to go backward by bringing in the early champion of Broken Windows policing to be his police commissioner: Bill Bratton. Consequently, there was no substantive change in the racist manner Black communities are policed in the city.
And in the post George Floyd Covid era, despite all the rhetoric about change, we see very little of it. Regressive policing policies are just being renamed, including it appears by New York City’s Black Mayor Eric Adams.
Let’s be clear here: we do have a serious crime problem. Yes, there are predatory monsters—who are created largely by societal neglect—that we must deal with.
But there are several things we must ask ourselves.
First, why are politicians pretending that the current crime surge, happening nationally, was unforeseeable given the fact that the COVID-19 crisis exacerbated the existing economic inequalities in America?
Band-aid temporary solutions (like flooding the streets with “boots on the ground”) may feel and sound good for the moment, but they do nothing to address long-term the root problems of crime in New York or elsewhere. Unfortunately, some act as if the answer to fighting crime is to unleash a new round of mass incarceration.
In the aftermath of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor many corporate companies started pledging and promising support to Black businesses and the like. Where is the sustained government support to address the continuing social upheaval we’re facing from this once in a century health crisis that has drastically disrupted life on our planet? Are these people saying they don’t see the connection between the economic chaos of this time and rising crime across the country?
The COVID pandemic has exposed the systemic institutional inequalities that hamper and harm Black communities. Isn’t it about time America do right by Black people?
In the current conversation about crime, most of our unprincipled leaders are reverting to the same failed playbook: to engage in over-policing Black communities. Then again, it is only a failed playbook if we assume they really care about Black communities.
The criminalization and economic exploitation of Black America has been in effect ever since this country’s genesis. Expecting politicians to fix it without maximum sustained pressure from we the people is wishful thinking.
Crime in America, because of segregation, happens primarily within racially homogenized neighborhoods. Therefore, we should ignore the lies of those who talk trash about “Black-on-Black crime.”
The nation’s gun violence is an outgrowth of America’s twisted gun culture—and the ahistorical fictions surrounding the Second Amendment, and how it came about. What we should admit here is this: gun violence is a very American form of conflict resolution. We see this in America’s might is right approach to foreign policy—and in domestic policy. The same way lawmakers launch violent initiatives in foreign “theaters of war,” is the same way they fund police to occupy and brutalize Black communities.
Gun violence in America is also big business and many of the same politicians who complain about gun violence will do nothing to control the flow of guns. And while they hide behind the Second Amendment, they really only care about protecting their NRA donors and those who financially support them in the gun manufacturing business.
What is needed now, more than anything, to reduce most of the crime in Black America is: economic investment. Ask yourself this: why aren’t politicians flooding Black communities with funding like they have no problem doing with police?
For some time now, we’ve heard a lot of dishonest discussion regarding the slogan “defund the police.” Our politicians pretend not to know that most people are not saying the police should have no funding, or be abolished. These lying politicians understand fully well that what people want to see is serious investments in communities to prevent crime—and to stop the Black bloodletting from police bullets.
Any politician who is not committed to seriously pushing for economic investment in Black communities is helping to perpetuate the existing state of crime. For obvious reasons, very few will acknowledge this. Instead, we hear mostly tough talk around using violence to combat crime. And so we have traumatized civilians having to navigate between trigger-happy criminals and bullies with badges who are sometimes worse than the violent criminals we’re told to fear.
At this moment, it seems that Mayor Eric Adams is caving to the pressure of those, particularly in the NYPD, who want to return to brutal bigoted policing under the guise of keeping us safe. This from the same NYPD officials who falsely claim the uptick in crime is related to criminal justice reforms like bail reform, despite the fact that there is zero evidence to substantiate that lie.
Black New Yorkers elected Mayor Adams because they want better and they hope this Black man will be the change agent they need to bring new policies and ideas to fix old problems, like racist policing, and enhance the lives of Black New Yorkers.
We must now ask ourselves this serious question: will Eric Adams’ policing policies really bring lasting public safety to Black communities, or will it just be more of the same old, same old?