Mayor Bill de Blasio is doubling his task force of badged hall monitors roaming New York City neighborhoods to ferret out hardened criminals who are not social distancing. This is in response to blowback he instigated by creating official snitches who tended to look in communities with predominantly Hispanic or black residents.
Actual numbers from March 17 through May 4 are disturbing: Of the 40 people arrested, 35 were black, four were Hispanic, and one was white. Can you say Optics Fail?
In the age of social media, a video camera live-streaming at every corner, accounts of egregious abuses of power going viral have the mayor taking heat from, well, everyone. One recent clip shared across platforms shows NYPD officers arresting small groups of people they suspect were in the throes of breaking social-distancing rules. Not laws, mind you, but city edicts. The officer is not masked and appears to use excessive force as he rounds up folks to ticket or perhaps take to the pokey. De Blasio admitted that this was the “wrong approach to policing.”
Add to current tallies of tickets issued that demonstrate people of color are the most cited, and De Blasio is diving headlong into a backlash bitch-slap of epic proportion.
The guy simply brought this calamity to his own front doorstep.
A Quick Rehash of Events
De Blasio appears to be out of his depth — making rash decisions after knee-jerk reactions to COVID-19 scares. Granted, his city is currently a petri dish of disease, and extra precautions are a good idea. However, the social-distancing guidelines can’t be shoehorned into every situation. No one-size-fits-all solution works for folks violating personal space.
De Blasio’s happy countenance crumbled after police broke up and dispersed mourners at the funeral of a local rabbi who had died from COVID-19. Incensed that freedom-loving New Yorkers had the audacity to not follow orders had said mayor ominously tweeting: “My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups.”
Boy howdy, that was an understatement.
Don’t Make Me Come Down There
Heavy-handed and punitive, De Blasio’s attitude prompted the reassignment of 1,000 police officers to sweep the city in a ticketing and arresting frenzy that lassoed citizens just being neighborly or enjoying time with friends and family. With racial discrepancies now fueling a public relations nightmare, the beleaguered mayor has doubled down on enforcement, adding another 1,300 to the NYC Social Distance Snitch Force.
De Blasio now labels them Ambassadors, to dilute the stench of lingering failure and assure the citizens of the Big Apple they will take a “positive approach” to diplomatically hand out masks and scoot people off their stoops and back inside. The Ambassadors are not police officers but regular Johns and Jills who work for the city. What could possibly go wrong with a 1,300-strong unarmed, untrained force telling cranky, socially deprived citizens to go home and wait out the pandemic like good boys and girls? What if one of these regular city employees happens to come across a person Mr. Mayor recently let out of prison to combat the spread of the virus among the incarcerated? And what if that criminal element doesn’t take kindly to the unsolicited advice?
This Ambassador ploy could be a bigger public relations disaster than only ticketing people of color, for Pete’s sake!
For the meantime, we wait and watch, hoping De Blasio’s snitches don’t end up with stitches, and that Gov. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t have to go down to the big city and smack Mayor Bill around. The guy does not need any more image problems.
Read more from Sarah Cowgill.
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