Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) suggested the recent crime surge plaguing New York City is due to “record unemployment” that is causing people to be put in a position to “shoplift some bread or go hungry that night.”
“Do we think this has to do with the fact that there’s record unemployment in the United States right now? The fact that people are at a level of economic desperation that we have not seen since the Great Recession?” Ocasio-Cortez said in a virtual town hall meeting when asked by a constituent about the recent uptick in crimes. “Maybe this has to do with the fact that people aren’t paying their rent and are scared to pay their rent and so they go out and they need to feed their child and they don’t have money. They’re put in a position where they feel like they either need to shoplift some bread or go hungry that night.”
She also claimed that the NYPD is still operating with a $6 billion budget, despite the recent $1 billion cut, and the crime spikes are still occurring.
“Keep in mind that this uptick in crime that’s happening right now is with a $6 billion New York City Police Department budget,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We have shoved more and more and more money into the NYPD. It has not prevented this uptick in crime.”
She defended her statements in a tweet, arguing that “poverty and crime are highly linked, both violent & nonviolent alike,” including another clip of her townhall where she stated, “crime is a symptom of a diseased society that neglects its most marginalized people.”
Republicans are all upset that I’m connecting the dots between poverty and crime.
I know most of them haven’t experienced or seen these issues first hand, but I have.
This may be hard for them to admit, but poverty and crime are highly linked, both violent & nonviolent alike. https://t.co/4t34dCLZlw
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 13, 2020
During a campaign-sponsored event on Monday, Ocasio-Cortez repeated the “Les Misérables” poverty claim as she took part in a campaign-sponsored food distribution event for the needy in Queens.
“When people do not have opportunities, I can tell you from my personal experience and what I saw growing up. When families don’t have money, a lot of times young people and teens that feel like they need to support their mom, sometimes they’ll turn to selling drugs, which can then lead to an escalated level of trouble, to what police label as gang activity,” she said. “So the idea that violent crime is somehow immune, or totally separated, from the economic situation that people are going through right now, I think that’s mistaken. It’s true. The desperation, even if we’re not talking about petty theft, there is a ladder that escalates into violent crime that is very much connected to the economic situation of a given community.”
The freshman lawmaker disputed the claims that the NYPD recent disbanded of its plainclothes anti-crime unit is triggering a surge of violence and shooting.
“Each precinct has a detective, they have investigatory units. There’s not just the anti-crime unit that is responsible for gun investigations and other shootings,” she responded.
The New York Police Department reported a staggering increase in shootings and violent crimes the past month. Over the weekend, New York City reported 15 shooting in just 15 hours, capping 43 shooting this month alone. Last week during the Fourth of July weekend, New York City reported 44 shooting, with eight people killed.
The White House slammed the Democratic Socialist remarks for tying to make economic conditions the culprit for the rise in violent crime, blaming progressives lawmakers calls to “defund the police” and redistribute police funding to social welfare programs.
“You have, most egregious of all, really, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez saying defund the police means defund the police. She criticized of course the announcement of $1.5 billion being taken down from NYPD. And this weekend, when faced with 28 shootings in New York, a 600% increase from this time last year, you have Rep. Ocasio-Cortez saying this is just because people are trying to get food with their families. That is preposterous.”
She added, “The reality is 63 percent of Americans in this country fear that criticism of our police departments will lead to no public safety in their streets. And 69 percent of black Americans. This is a real issue when you call our police cancer, when you talk about dismantling them. And then this weekend in New York, you see a one-year-old killed in his stroller. His name was Davelle Gardner Jr and that one year old will be in our prayers.”
During a Monday press briefing, Governor Cuomo disputed AOC’s theory of the city’s recent crime wave, calling her suggestion “factually impossible.”
“It is factually impossible that somebody committed a crime so they could pay their rent,” Cuomo said, noting he signed an executive order ensuring New Yorkers can’t be kicked out of their homes for not paying rent amid the pandemic. “There’s a number of contributing factors … There’s no one factor.”