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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Blasts Mayor Adams’ Hardline Approach to Crime

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has slammed Mayor Adams’ tough approach to tackling the city’s crime crisis. (Photos: Franmarie Metzler; U.S. House Office of Photography (L) and (R) Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.)

April 4, 2022 By Michael Dorgan

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has slammed the mayor’s new policies aimed at tackling the city’s crime crisis.

The Queens-Bronx congresswoman took to Instagram Saturday to pan the hardline measures Mayor Eric Adams has implemented since he took office in January in order to rein in soaring levels of crime.

Ocasio-Cortez gave a thumbs-down emoji when responding to a question during a Q & A session with her followers on the social media platform. A follower had asked the progressive lawmaker for her opinion on the mayor’s policing strategies and his NYPD funding proposals.

The congresswoman ripped into some of the mayor’s crime battling policies which include bringing back plainclothes police teams and removing homeless encampments.

“Cutting virtually every city agency’s budget while raising NYPD’s, bringing back the plainclothes unit notorious for misconduct and responsible for an enormous percent of all NYC police killings, torture in the form of solitary [confinement] at Rikers and destroying homeless people’s sole belongings/shelter in the middle of winter while defunding the very shelter system they’re supposed to turn to?” Ocasio-Cortez posted to her Instagram story.

“It’s a no for me,” she wrote.

Ocasio-Cortez has been an outspoken supporter of the “defund the police” movement – and is often seen as one of its leading advocates – which rose to prominence following the death of George Floyd, who was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020. She has called for diverting much of the police budget into programs pertaining to education, housing and various social services.

However, Adams has not proposed increasing the NYPD budget. Instead, he plans on trimming it by nearly $30 million to about $5.41 billion, according to his 2023 budget proposal. The 2023 budget begins July 1.

Nevertheless, Ocasio-Cortez says that pumping large sums of money into police departments will not bring crime rates down.

“Police budgets have NOTHING to do with crime levels,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “If they did, crime would be at their lowest rate across the country, because police have more money than ever before.”

The congresswoman also wrote that tough policing practices — like plainclothes units — were not the answer to rising crime levels.

In Queens, crime is up 51 percent for the year through April 3, compared to the same period a year ago, according to city data.

The Queens Post reached out to the mayor’s office for comment but has yet to receive a response.

In February, Adams brought back the plainclothes units — which were disbanded in 2020 by former Mayor Bill de Blasio – in an effort crackdown on illegal guns and major crimes. The units have netted more than 100 arrests since it launched— and nearly 70 percent of the people busted have a prior criminal history, according to the New York Post.

Ocasio-Cortez took aim at the plainclothes unit on Instagram, saying that it has been responsible for a significant portion of the deaths caused by the NYPD.

She did not provide data to support her case, although a 2018 study by The Intercept found that the NYPD’s plainclothes units were responsible for nearly one-third of the department’s fatal shootings from 2000 to the time of the study, despite making up around 5 percent of the entire police force.

Ocasio-Cortez argued that the root cause of the city’s crime crisis stems from broader social policies and that more policing would not work.

“But as long as people think we can police our way out of problems that our housing, education and healthcare policies created we are going to continue having crime and violence,” she wrote.

She characterized “violence” as something more extensive than just physical acts.

“And by violence I don’t just mean people committing it but also [the] system and [the] power committing it against people.”

Ocasio-Cortez was also critical of Adams’ approach to the homeless crisis, such as sending cops into transit hubs to get rid of people who loiter in the subway system. The city has also been removing homeless encampments in an effort to connect people living on the street with social services and shelters.

She also opposes Adams’ plan to cut the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) budget from around $2.8 billion to $2.15 billion in the upcoming fiscal year—although a large portion of the reduction is tied to the loss of $500 million in COVID-related federal funding allocated to the agency, according to City Limits.

The city, however, would direct less money to adult shelters in the upcoming fiscal year, according to his proposal.

Ocasio-Cortez also called out the city’s use of solitary confinement at Rikers Island prison, labeling it as torture, while she ended the segment by writing that the U.S. military sends money to police departments.

“Did you know that even the U.S. military spending also gets funneled to police departments?” she wrote.

“It’s called program 1033. Google it.”

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