Jumaane Williams, the city’s public defender and a Democratic candidate for governor, is playing games with New Yorkers on the crucial issue of public safety. He cynically claims to cherish “safe and prosperous societies,” and he advocates the same policies that brought New York to its knees and gave criminals the whip hand over peaceful, law-abiding people.
While violent crime hovers around the city, Williams – along with others on the hard left – redefines “security” to almost anything but freedom from fear of being stabbed, pushed or shot in another “random” incident.
Williams tweeted Tuesday that “true public safety comes when communities have what they need to thrive. Public safety is safe housing, good health care, childcare, reliable transportation and jobs that can live on wages – not over police work, arrests, imprisonment and surveillance. ”
This reinterpretation of what it means to feel “safe” just inverts the standard definition of the word for ideological purposes. “Security” no longer means getting criminals off the streets – it means fulfilling the same wish list that progressives always demand.
Has anyone been shot in the subway? We need more funding for the New York City Housing Authority! A teenager was stabbed in a juice shop? Let’s organize day care! A woman was raped in a Bronx park? More funds for the libraries now!
Here’s a useful rule: When someone gives the same answer no matter what question you ask, he has an agenda that has nothing to do with the current topic.
Williams and his cohort define public safety. They see violent crime as part of city life and the effective solution – “arrests, imprisonment and surveillance” – as a cure that is worse than the disease. Instead of trying to treat what they think of as a symptom, they encourage us to look at the social “root causes” of crime.
Progressive idol representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) did this in her characteristically clumsy way in July 2020, when she accused rising crime of the fact that criminals “have to feed their child and they have no money then… they feel like they either need to shoplift some bread or get hungry. ”
This is equivalent to saying that people only jump on the timber cross because they are going to their third job after attending their second service of the day. If there is a rash of needy parents stealing bread to feed their starving children, I would like to hear about it, but in the meantime there is little evidence that people commit violent crime – or shoplifting from exclusive Soho stores – out of something resembling genuine need.
Williams, meanwhile, gas lights New Yorkers telling them to ignore the evidence from their own eyes. “People want to be safe and they want to feel safe,” he explained last month. “Sometimes they are safe but do not feel safe, and it could be just as dangerous to push policies that hurt people.”
Understood? If you do not feel safe in the subway – where 18 people have been murdered in two years – you are wrong and should ignore your own senses. The “dangerous” problem, he probably explains, is that when people underestimate how safe they really are, they can demand action that “harms people.”
Like what? You know – arresting criminals and sending them to jail. To let the police do their job. Tracing of gang members. Responds to calls for help from law-abiding residents whose buildings, streets and parks have been converted into 24-hour crime scenes. All the traditional methods that made New York City safe and prosperous, but which Williams and his allies see as Gestapo tactics.
No one in public life has made such an effort to destroy public safety in New York City as Jumaane Williams. From scrapping with police at protests to promoting legislation designed to put police work in the freezer, he has built his career on making the city more dangerous. That’s why it’s so richly ironic that Williams lives inside Brooklyn’s Fort Hamilton, a fenced army base guarded by soldiers armed with machine guns.
Williams never has to worry about drug dealers, insane homeless people or vandals in his neighborhood. They can not enter. Try to protest outside the public prosecutor’s house – as he has done outside the houses of his opponents many times – and see what the soldiers at the gate say. According to the base’s website, “all visitors and unauthorized contractors seeking access to Fort Hamilton must be surveyed through the National Crime Information Center’s Interstate Identification Index.”
Sounds nice – for him. This public security hypocrisy is pure chutzpah. Jumaane Williams should stop while he’s in front and enjoy the peace and quiet of Fort Hamilton instead of telling the rest of us about our safety.
Seth Barron is the editor-in-chief of The American Mind and author of “The Last Days of New York.”