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Prominent members of New York City’s black community are demanding leaders reinstate the police anti-crime unit that was disbanded last month.
Several black community leaders and activists had a clear message for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, calling on him to “take your handcuffs off of the police,” and for New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea to reassemble the plainclothes unit as shootings spike in the city.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams called on leaders to “reevaluate” the controversial decision last month to reassign about 600 undercover officers from the unit tasked with getting guns off the streets of New York City.
“Babies are not supposed to be wearing these in a coffin,” Adams, a former police officer, told WLNY-TV Monday as he held up a pair of baby shoes after a one-year-old had died hours before, a victim of senseless gun violence.
“I think that a total elimination is something we need to reevaluate,” Adams said. “Right now, bad guys are saying if you don’t see a blue and white you can do whatever you want.”
Though the move to disband the unit was applauded by anti-cop protesters and those demanding change in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May, others warned that the city would reap the consequences of a rise in lawlessness. Violence surged in the city last month following the move by the police commissioner, who was praised by de Blasio at a press briefing on Tuesday.
“He felt — and I agreed with him — that it was important to make a change in our strategy, to use the talents of our officers in new and better ways,” de Blasio said. “I don’t know anyone who knows more about how to do that than Dermot Shea.”
But Tony Herbert, an activist in New York’s black community, agreed with Adams and slammed the city’s leadership for not adequately addressing the issue.
“The guns keep going off and now we have a one-year-old and the blood is on the hands of the mayor and the state Legislature,” Herbert told WLNY.
The CBS News outlet noted that NYPD statistics showed a drop in gun arrests in the last few weeks, with a 277% increase in shootings for the week, with 49 cases compared to only 13 last year at the same time.
With a new police reform bill passed by the City Council, community leaders called on de Blasio not to sign it as they gathered in an anti-gun violence rally in Brooklyn.
(Sorce: WLNY/CBS New York)
“The African American community is saying we don’t want crime here. Ninety-five percent of the people here are decent, law-abiding citizens, and the law is for the lawless,” Bishop Gerald Seabrooks told reporters Tuesday. “So, please, mayor, take your handcuffs off of the police. Let them police with professionalism, respect, and courtesy.”
“You are sworn to serve to protect the city,” Adams said.
De Blasio, who has called to defund the NYPD while helping to paint a “Black Lives Matter” mural in the street in front of Trump Tower, called the shootings “heartbreaking” but has offered no real solutions.
“This is not anything we can allow in our city. It is heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking for so many reasons and begins with the fact that there are just so many guns out there and that is a New York tragedy,” the mayor said, as he dismissed any connection between the rise in gun crimes and the disbanding of the police unit.
Joined by other community leaders, Herbert addressed de Blasio Tuesday, saying “the gloves come off,” and accusing the mayor of “crying fake crocodile tears” over the death of the one-year-old while “allowing these progressive protesters out here to destroy our city.”
“You’re at fault!” he exclaimed.
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