New York City has seen a rise in violent crime over the last year, and when crime rises in big cities like NYC and the mayors of said cities are tasked with doing something about it, the “answer” tends to involve putting more cops on the street and giving them significantly more rope to cross over the line in regards to violating the civil liberties of Black and brown people. (Y’all thought I was going to say “giving them significantly more rope to hang negroes,” and you were incorrect…but also kind of correct.)
MYC Mayor Eric Adams is a Black man—but he also used to be a cop.
So it’s not terribly surprising that Adams’ solution to a rise in gun violence in NYC is to unleash a previously-dismantled special plainclothes police unit to target guns and street gangs.
“The plainclothes anti-gun unit is going to zero in on guns and gangs,” Adams said in a statement, according to NPR. “We’re going to use precision policing to identify the gang members, the crews. We’re going to target them.”
Yeeeah, but see the problem is this is a tactic that rarely works because when police officers are told to “zero in on guns and gangs,” they proceed as if the words “guns and gangs” are synonymous with “Blacks and Latinos.”
In fact, the very plainclothes unit Adams is planning to reinstate was one that was disbanded in 2020 after NYC residents and activists complained that the officers were just basically targeting people of color they found “suspicious” and they were using excessive force while doing it, NPR reports.
“The anti-crime unit was primarily tasked with doing these stops, and they would do them violently,” Jenn Borchetta, a managing director at the legal non-profit Bronx Defenders, told NPR. “They would throw people against walls. I mean, we have one client who is 13 years old who was thrown against the hood of a car. Just for crossing the street.”
And that unit isn’t the first example of NYC trying to decrease crime but only successfully decreasing melanated people’s ability to walk to the store without having their constitutional rights violated. You might remember a little-known policy that started in NYC before variants of it spread across the country called “stop and frisk.” (I call it a “little-known” policy because if you weren’t a pigment-endowed person, you probably didn’t know anything about it.)
According to New York Civil Liberties Union, at the peak of “stop and frisk,” which the organization said was in 2011, only nine percent of the nearly 700,000 New Yorkers who were stopped and searched were white, and 88 percent of those who were stopped had not committed any crimes. The NYCLU also noted that 780 guns were confiscated in 2011—but again, that number came after nearly 700,00 mostly non-crime committing people of color were targetted, stopped, searched and often brutalized.
OK, but at least crime went down, right? Well, not really.
Before “stop and frisk” was ruled unconstitutional in 2013, violent crime in NYC had seen a small reduction, according to a study conducted by NYU and Columbia. So, we’re talking about a whole lot of civil liberty violating yielding minimal results.
You would have to either be white or Eric Adams to think it was all worth it.
OK, to be fair to Adams, maybe he has some plan to ensure that the targets of his police unit will actually be violent criminals and not just people who look like they could possibly be violent criminals based on them lacking the completion for protection. Then again, ever since Adams stared condescendingly referring to undervalued laborers as “low skilled” workers who aren’t academically inclined enough to handle sitting in a corner office, I’ve been looking at him like he’s probably an opp.
His method of anti-crime tactics doesn’t do much to change that.