NEW YORK (AP) — After a girl was pushed to her demise in entrance of a New York City subway practice beneath Times Square over the weekend, Mayor Eric Adams acknowledged to reporters Tuesday that even he didn’t feel fully safe driving the rails.
The Democrat recounted when he rode the practice on Jan. 1, not lengthy after taking the oath of workplace, he known as 911 to report a combat close to a subway station, encountered a yelling passenger and one other passenger sleeping on a practice.
“On day one, I took the subway system, I felt unsafe. I saw homeless everywhere. People were yelling on the trains. There was a feeling of disorder. So as we deal with the crime problem, we also have to deal with the fact people feel unsafe,” he mentioned.
Adams, who has been in workplace for simply over two weeks, is an avowed fan of the system, which grew to become notorious for grime, graffiti and crime within the Nineteen Eighties, however made a outstanding turnaround in latest a long time that had principally erased its unhealthy status.
After Saturday’s apparently unprovoked assault, Adams initially careworn that, total, the system is safe.
“When you have an incident like this, the perception is what we’re fighting against. This is a safe system,” Adams mentioned in a information convention hours after the assault.
But even earlier than the killing, his administration had introduced plans to spice up the presence of law enforcement officials within the subway and attain out to homeless individuals driving trains as a part of a mission to fight each “actual crime” and “the perception of crime.”
“We’re going to drive down crime and we’re going to make sure New Yorkers feel safe in our subway system, and they don’t feel that way now. I don’t feel that way when I take the train every day or when I’m moving throughout our transportation system,” Adams instructed reporters Tuesday.
Janno Lieber, the performing chair and CEO of Metropolitan Transportation Authority that runs the subway, mentioned he thought the mayor’s declaration of feeling unsafe was Adams “showing that he gets it” even if statistics present the probabilities of being a sufferer of a criminal offense on the subway are low.
“The mayor is showing he gets it and he is sensitive to the way New Yorkers are feeling,” Lieber mentioned. “People don’t feel based on statistics. They feel based on their personal experience and what they’re hearing.”
Police charged a 61-year-old man, Simon Martial, with second-degree homicide in Saturday’s killing. The lady who was killed, Michelle Alyssa Go, was of Asian descent and police mentioned they have been investigating whether or not her demise was a hate crime, although police mentioned Martial, who was homeless, had a historical past of “emotionally disturbed encounters.”
It follows different latest assaults within the system that generated public alarm. In September, three transit employees have been assaulted in at some point. In May, a number of riders have been slashed and assaulted by a gaggle of attackers, and 4 stabbings have been reported inside a number of hours in February.
Danny Pearlstein, a spokesman for the nonprofit Riders Alliance representing New York City bus and subway passengers, mentioned that whereas the subway system is “statistically, overwhelmingly safe” and hundreds of thousands of individuals use it each day with out bother, violence like Saturday’s killing hits a nerve as a result of it feels it might occur to anybody.
“If you hear it happened on the subway, that’s your subway,” he mentioned.
Safety and crime have been a few of the driving components behind Adams election. The former New York Police Department captain made some extent throughout his marketing campaign final yr of speaking about the necessity to fight violent crime, which has ticked up in the course of the pandemic, although it nonetheless stays at close to modern-era lows.
The subway system, with its 472 stations and greater than 665 miles (1,070 kilometers) of monitor, is a visual marker of the town’s security and financial well being. Ridership stays down, complicating the financial restoration for companies that rely on trains bringing prospects to their doorways and for the transit system itself, which depends on rider fares to fund its operations.
Daily rides during the last two weeks have hovered round 2.1 million, about 44% of the identical time pre-pandemic, in response to knowledge from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which falls beneath state management.
Police statistics present main felonies within the subways have dropped during the last two years, however the numbers are troublesome to check with ridership numbers having dropped as nicely. The drop in ridership has additionally made the presence of homeless individuals on the trains extra seen.
Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul, each Democrats, introduced two weeks in the past a plan to deploy social employees to assist join these dwelling on the streets with companies and to step up the police presence in subway stations and on trains and have them work together with passengers.
Pearlstein mentioned including extra police isn’t essentially the reply.
“If you tell people you’re adding police officers, that makes people think there aren’t enough right now. If you tell people you don’t feel safe, they think well maybe I wouldn’t feel safe either,” he mentioned.
Pearlstein mentioned housing and well being care are wanted to deal with the “humanitarian crisis” within the system, together with maintaining the subway inexpensive and enticing so extra individuals will trip it and make it safer.
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