With apologies to Mark Twain, there is reason to hope the reports of New York City’s death are premature.
The hope comes from a poll showing a near-majority of likely voters in the Democrats’ primary say crushing crime is Job No. 1 for the next mayor. Granted, that shouldn’t be a surprise in light of the gruesome tally of murder and mayhem.
But the results are uplifting because too many people in Gotham, especially Democrats, have been slow to understand how pervasive the crime and disorder are and how they are jeopardizing the city’s recovery from the pandemic. Many with bleeding hearts have convinced themselves the gunslingers and gangbangers are guilty only of making misguided cries for help.
Against that tide of delusion, it counts as very good news that 46 percent of respondents tell NY1/Ipsos pollsters that stopping the violence must be the next mayor’s top priority.
Welcome to the real world.
The next step in the sensible voters’ approach logically follows — Eric Adams tops the candidate field in the poll because he is promising to be forceful in combatting crime. A retired cop himself, Adams is seen as having the credibility to keep the promise.
He gets just 22 percent, but that is good enough to put him in front by six points over Andrew Yang and seven over Kathryn Garcia. Interestingly, NY1 goes the extra step of simulating results based on what respondents say about their additional picks in the ranked-choice system, and concludes Adams would ultimately prevail.
It is possible that some of Adams’ support might come from the fact that he also has been a fierce critic of the NYPD. As Heather Mac Donald points out in the City Journal, that background means he is not universally popular within the NYPD.
One reason stems from his disputed testimony in the 2013 federal trial on stop-and-frisk, where Adams claimed to have heard then-top cop Ray Kelly say twice that “We stop African American and Hispanic youths because we want to instill the fear in them that every time they leave their home, they can be stopped and searched by the police.”
It would be completely out of character for Kelly to say such a thing, not to mention stupid, and he vehemently denies the claim, as do others who attended the meetings where Adams says he heard the statement. Yet the federal judge cited the testimony in her decision against the city, Mac Donald writes.
Still, Adams’ emergence as the front-runner has to be seen in the context of the last two years. New Yorkers have suffered under the worst mayor in modern times, perhaps the worst mayor ever. And despite the city’s reputation for being populated by 8 million aggressive know-it-alls, there was no revolution, only grumbling and a race for the exits.
Bill de Blasio took office in 2014, when New York was the safest big city in America. That distinction was achieved at great sacrifice by the men and women in NYPD blue and the politicians who had the courage to deliver safe streets.
The easy part came when de Blasio foolishly surrendered to the forces of darkness. He didn’t do it all at once, and actually held the line for the first few years of his mayoralty.
But gradually, he bent with the far-left political wind and began to handcuff the cops. A year ago, as the protests over the George Floyd murder turned to riots and looting, de Blasio gave up the ghost. The bloody results ever since speak for themselves.
Through May, murder is up by 48 percent over 2019 and shooting victims have increased by 107 percent in two years.
Any decent mayor, any decent person, facing this breakdown of safety would have sounded a certain trumpet for the police to ride to the rescue. That’s not the mayor New York has.