The number of acts of violence in New York has risen sharply since the beginning of the corona pandemic. Even toddlers are victims of shootings in broad daylight. Mayor de Blasio is at a loss.
By Antje Passenheim, ARD-Studio New York
“Go to hell!” Samantha Gardner has only this message to the murderers of her grandson. On the other hand, she asks the New York authorities when the gun violence and death will finally stop. Her grandson, Davell Gardner, was only one year old. He slumbered in his buggy while the family grilled outside at a playground in Brooklyn. Then an SUV stopped and two strangers jumped out and fired. The bullets caught three men and Davell. The little one died in the hospital.
More than 200 shootings in June
“He couldn’t even walk,” says Samantha at a vigil. He was too small to run away. A six-year-old girl was able to flee in panic when her father was shot dead on the street in the Bronx. The shots came from a moving car. A security camera recorded the so-called drive-by shoot. One of hundreds in the past few weeks.
Gun violence is shaking the city, which before Corona boasted as the safest metropolis in the USA. “Something’s wrong out there,” says New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. And whether: 205 shootings in June. Almost one and a half times as much as last year. This month is no better either. On the weekend on the national holiday alone, the city counts 64 shootings. And ten dead.
New York Mayor worried
De Blasio is concerned: “I haven’t seen anything like this since I was mayor.” New York has not seen anything like this since the 1980s, when the city sank into a drug swamp. The murder level is still far below that of then. But the development is threatening, says Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. There’s a lot of gang and drug activity going on. “It’s very simple. They are bad people with guns,” says Shea.
It’s not that easy. Shea knows that too. The violence has many causes, says Mayor de Blasio: “The coronavirus has messed up a lot.” Many police officers were absent. The judicial system lies idle. The prosecutors did not care about the gun violence. There is a lot going on in New York.
Corona exacerbates the situation in the city
750,000 New Yorkers have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. Those who already have little are particularly affected. Because of the virus, the city released hundreds of inmates from prisons and then left them to fend for themselves. There is no social system to help them find their way outside. Commissioner Shea speaks of the “perfect storm” – a disaster that could hardly be worse.
His people are frustrated. After weeks of anti-racism demos, after the police reforms. The New York City Council’s reform package, for example, bans them from strangleholdings and other brutal practices, and Shea doesn’t like it very much: “It’s stupid and cripples the police.”
“War of Neglect”
The solution to the problem does not lie with the police, warns the district president of the hotspot Brooklyn, Eric Adams: “101 gunshot victims in seven days. Look at the ethnic groups. Not a single white man.” The last time there was over 100 shootings in a week here was in 1993, he recalls. At that time, New York was in the middle of the war against the drug crack. “Now we are in the middle of a war of neglect,” said Adams. “We have neglected the children who carry the guns; we have neglected the victims.” Anyone who doesn’t get the help they need. Politicians have left a large part of the population behind.
The mayor has already promised measures to keep the communities down, such as jobs and affordable housing. But the residents are fed up with promises. “Enough is enough!” calls Jackie Rowe-Adams, founder of the group Harlem Mothers SAVE She has lost two sons. Both were shot. The younger one with 17 years.