Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested in light of the mass shooting that left eight dead, six of them Asian American, in Georgia, that the New York Police Department (NYPD) confront those who engage in hateful conduct, even if it doesn’t rise to a criminal level.
The mayor encouraged New Yorkers, particularly Asian Americans, to report if they’d been a victim of hate crime or discrimination.
“We need to know if you’ve been treated wrongly, if you’ve been a victim of discrimination, if you’ve been a victim of a hate crime, if you’ve been a victim of violence based on who you are, we need to know about immediately,” the mayor said in a news briefing Thursday.
States around the country have reported a spike in violence and hate-related incidents toward Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I also think even if something is not a criminal case, a perpetrator being confronted by the city, whether it’s NYPD or another agency, and being told that what they’ve done was very hurtful to another person and could have ever repeated lead to criminal charges, that’s another important piece of the puzzle,” de Blasio suggested.
A reporter asked how the NYPD would become involved in noncriminal cases.
“It’s NYPD or could be other agencies as well. But NYPD is a great example. One of the things officers are trained to do is to give warnings. If someone has done something wrong, but not rising to a criminal level, it’s perfectly appropriate for an NYPD officer to talk to them, to say that was not appropriate,” de Blasio said. “And if you did that on a higher level, that would be a crime.”
“And I think that has an educating impact on people. I think it has a sobering impact that we need. … By the way, if something might be a crime, if it’s not 100 percent clear, the NYPD is going to investigate, I assure you, if an NYPD officer who calls you or shows up at your door to ask about something you did that makes people think twice,” he continued.
De Blasio’s suggestion to expand policing beyond criminal matters comes just after he revealed police reform plans to repair relationships between law enforcement and communities of color.
In Thursday’s news briefing, the mayor also blasted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to allow indoor fitness classes to resume.
“The state of New York continues to make decisions without consulting the city of New York or our health experts or any locality,” he said.
The mayor continued: “I want to ask a question, is this being done because of what the data and science is telling us, or is this being done for political reasons? Because it sure as hell looks like a lot of these decisions are being made by the governor because of his political needs.”