More Police & Jailing NYers Has Failed Repeatedly to End Gun Violence – Let's Give Equality a Try

Contact: Yul-san Liem, 347.676.1878, yul-san@justicecommittee.org


In response to Mayor Eric Adams’ release of his “Blueprint to End Gun Violence”, the Justice Committee released the following statement from Executive Director Loyda Colon: The core of Mayor Eric Adams’ blueprint is clear: increase policing and surveillance, increase the criminalization of poverty, homelessness and mental illness, and lock people up.


Like all New Yorkers, addressing gun violence and building safe, healthy and empowered communities is of the utmost importance to the Justice Committee and has been at the core of our work for almost 40 years. Expanding the NYPD’s power and role in our daily lives and imprisoning vulnerable New Yorkers will do the opposite - it always has. It will further inequity, disenfranchisement and police violence in Black, Latinx and other communities of color, exacerbating conditions that give rise to a multitude of safety concerns. The city’s approach must be based in principles of equity and ensuring all New Yorkers - including and especially communities plagued by gun violence - have the resources, infrastructure and services we need to thrive. Until there is a plan that is rooted in these key elements, New Yorkers will continue to be harmed by police, crime, and by Mayor Adams’ failed, outdated and barbaric approach to public safety.


Mayor Adams says he does not want to make the same mistakes as the past, yet he already has. The NYPD “omnipresence” he speaks of reeks of the Bloomberg-Kelly era and the height of NYPD stop-and-frisk abuses. Particularly frightening is Adams’ rebranding and enhancing of the plainclothes street crimes/anti-crime unit that killed Amadou Diallo, Eric Garner, Kimani Gray, Saheed Vassell, Antonio Williams and too many others. A return of any version of this notoriously brutal unit - whether it is dressed in “modified plainclothes” or not - will only lead to more NYPD killings of Black and Latinx New Yorkers. On top of this return to failed and abusive policing tactics of the past, Adams’ turn to facial recognition and other invasive technology for “case-building” purposes will push the door wide open for surveillance and civil rights violations.


Rolling back bail and discovery reforms, charging young people as adults if they refuse to snitch, minimizing covid precautions in courthouses, and forcing those struggling with mental health challenges into New York’s abusive and carceral mental healthcare system will also not increase health and safety in our city. New Yorkers with mental health challenges and their loved ones know that the alleged mental health resources Mayor Adams stated will be utilized do not exist or are inadequate at best. Being serious about addressing our mental health crisis means creating real, community-based, culturally competent, non-coercive mental health infrastructure in NYC. Being serious about ending homelessness means permanent, truly affordable housing for all.


Any cross-agency collaboration that is framed by a primary reliance on police and prisons, whether it is “gun-violence liaisons”, a NYPD-DHS-DSNY “Quality of Life Taskforce”, or NYPD co-response to mental health emergencies, will only increase the criminalizing nature of our entire city system. In this context, the few pieces of Adams’ plan with some promise – strengthening employment opportunities for young people and increasing support for violence interrupter programs – fall terribly short.


The Justice Committee is calling on all New Yorkers to take intervention and prevention of gun violence, police violence and the further criminalization of our people, into our own hands. This means rooting our approach in the understanding that true safety comes from equity, justice, and ensuring we all have what we need to thrive. This means working with our neighbors to develop alternative safety practices that don’t rely on the police and preparing for increased police harassment through Know Your Rights trainings and CopWatch. It means collectively demanding that the City invests in non-police anti-violence programs, community-based, culturally competent mental health care, housing for all, and other services and infrastructure for our communities, not in expanding the NYPD and prison system.


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