Rising Crime, Radical Agenda Test Left
With weeks to go to elections that will decide New York City’s next mayor and the powerful post of Manhattan district attorney, rising crime suddenly is at the center of the political action. The stakes are high—and not just for New York.
The proximate cause for the sudden focus on crime was a shooting in the heart of the city—a gunman let loose with a fusillade in Times Square, wounding a 4-year-old girl, a woman from New Jersey, and a tourist from Rhode Island. But that was just gas on the bonfire. Judicial Watch followers are familiar with the grim litany of rising crime statistics in New York and across urban America.
“As of May 2,” the New York Times reported, “132 people have been killed compared with 113 this same time last year, a 17 percent increase, according to Police Department statistics. There have been 416 shooting incidents compared with 227 this time last year, an 83 percent increase.” Violent subway crimes rattle the city. Hate crimes continue to rise.
Rising crime poses a big problem for the Left, which nationwide has pushed hard on criminal-justice issues with calls to defund the police and empty the jails. In New York, a draft platform from a coalition of radical left-wing groups, obtained by Judicial Watch, suggests the scope of the Left’s national agenda.
The crowded New York mayoral and DA races are Democratic Party primaries that will be decided June 22 in a city dominated by Democrats, effectively anointing the winners. Both races have tacked sharply to the left, with most of the DA candidates backing most of the radical platform, and the mayoral candidates echoing its themes.
The platform calls for defunding the Manhattan DA’s office, sharp reductions in charging and sentencing discretion, curtailing gang prosecutions and intelligence gathering, ending support for police-sponsored community programs, declining disorderly conduct prosecutions, and stopping pre-trial detention.
It’s class war on the criminal justice system. The platform calls for a fifty percent reduction in the district attorney’s budget because “for too long” the office “has worked to extract wealth from the targets of policing and incarceration.” It says that the DA “continues to pursue overzealous charges and excessive sentences” and that there must be a commitment to “reducing the power of the office.”
The attack on the office of district attorney is an attack on policing as well. The DA’s office, the draft platform says, “is heavily intertwined with and dependent on other law enforcement entities, including the NYPD.” Charging of violent offenders must be changed because “the label ‘violent’…is applied in arbitrary, biased, and harmful ways that do nothing to address the root causes of violence.” Gang prosecutions must be ended because the “cases have been built through close collaboration with the NYPD as it has expanded its racist and controversial gang database.”
Gang violence, by the way, is widely identified as a central cause of shootings and killings in New York. And recent state legislation already has sharply reduced jail populations.
But lately it seems that urban America is tiring of rising crime and disorder. The public mood appears to be shifting. In a recent New York poll, crime placed second in public concern, after Covid-19.
In recent years, the criminal-justice reform movement, backed by the George Soros network, has made powerful gains around the country. Left-wing district attorneys are now installed in Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and other cities. The New York races, while dominated by the city’s noisy progressive factions, feature a handful of relative moderates, such as mayoral candidate Eric Adams and DA contender Tali Farhadian Weinstein, who have pushed back against the Left’s excesses . Polling is sparse, but both seem to be gaining ground. Read more about the races here and here.
Victory for any moderate would signal that the public pushback against rising crime is gaining traction. Victory for any of the other candidates would signal something entirely different—that the leftward march in American cities continues.
Micah Morrison is chief investigative reporter for Judicial Watch. Follow him on Twitter @micah_morrison. Tips: [email protected]
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