Mayor Bill de Blasio blames New York’s rise in violence on COVID-19 pandemic

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio blamed the surge in violence over the weekend on the COVID-19 crisis, while defending the city’s new police reforms and promising to keep it  “the safest big city in America.”

De Blasio spoke to the press Monday following a violent weekend that engulfed New York and left at least 8 people dead and more than 44 shot and badly hurt.

“I want to talk about what happened this weekend. Many were out there celebrating, but we saw too much violence, and we have a lot of work to do to address it,” he said, adding that “there is not one cause for something like this.”

“This is directly related to coronavirus,” the Mayor said. “This is a very serious situation… As we’re getting into warmer and warmer weather, we’re feeling the effects of people being cooped up for months, the economy hasn’t restarted – we have a real problem here.”

He promised to “double down” on tackling the violence, which included shootings in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, stressing that “neighborhood policing” and help from clergy elected officials will be needed when taking on the issue.

“This is all hands on deck,” the Mayor said, adding that New York has “been dealt a really tough hand.”

“It was the health care crisis in March and April, May we were coming out of it, the warmer months. People are cooped up … they don’t have the normal things to engage their lives,” he continued. “But we’re going to overcome it. It’s going to be tough and take hard work.”

De Blasio added:

“I know it feels very unsettling for people but we’re going to fight it back.”

NY Police Chief Terence Monaghan also weighed in on the violence, agreeing that the fatal weekend was due to “a combination of things,” including the coronavirus crisis, but also talked about the court system shutdown and new city reforms, such as the bail reform played a part.

“A lot of different individuals are on the street that should not be on the street,” Monahan said Monday, stressing that inmate releases from Rikers Island due to coronavirus, bail reform, and the freshly imposed ban on chokeholds contributed as well.

“It has our cops hesitating to enforce some of those quality-of-life issues,” he added, noting that officers do not have an issue with the ban on chokeholds, but that parts of the new legislation make it difficult for officers to make arrests, including using their knees on a person’s back.

“The animosity toward police out there is tremendous,” he said. “Just about everyone we deal with is looking to fight a police officer when we make an arrest, so it is vital that we get communities together supporting and speaking up for police.”

Monaghan went on saying that  “the vast majority support our police,” and that the force needs “to know from the communities how they want their communities policed.”

“It is unacceptable the amount of violence we had this weekend,” he continued. “We have to deal with the guns on the streets and find new ways to get them.”

The Mayor also talked about the court system not working properly due to COVID-19 causing a backlog for the police.

Both of them were asked if officers were holding back due to the council’s decision to defund the NYPD by $1 billion weekly.

“Absolutely not,” Monahan said. “Our guys are not slowing down. Investigations are moving along. Shooting and homicide investigations do not happen overnight… We have numerous individuals that we are ready to indict and we are waiting for the court system to open up.”

This comes after 21 shootings left a minimum of 37 people injured and 3 people killed in a period of 9 hours between Saturday and Sunday, as per NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison.

On Sunday night, in a 3-hours span, at least seven people were shot, 5 of which died of their wounds.

Sunday’s violence started at 5:47 p.m. A minimum of 4 people were killed in Brooklyn and the Bronx, according to the New York Post. A man was found dead after being shot in the head in Staten Island at 8:47 p.m.

In June, the NYPD announced it was disbanding its anti-crime unit and reassigning hundreds of officers to other branches amid growing criticism over its handling of rioters and protesters. Commissioner Dermot Shea noted that about 600 anti-crime officers would be sent to other teams.

Last Monday, the Mayor said New York is “going through a rough patch in terms of crime, but we will not go back.”

“We [became] the safest big city in America. We will keep that title,” he said. “We will not go back and that’s the work we will do together in New York City.”

For FoxNews’ report on the story please see the video below. 

Do you believe Mayor De Blasio is right in blaming the coronavirus for the violence caused by the recent riots? Let us know by joining the conversation in the comments and please share this article if you’ve found it informative. 

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