Commissioner Dermot Shea says “squad member” AOC should “reconsider” calls to free Rikers inmates

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NEW YORK CITY, NY – With there being an ongoing staffing crisis impacting Rikers Island, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and three other lawmakers have called for the shutting down of Rikers and the release of the inmates – calling the facility “a humanitarian crisis”.

However, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea expressed concerns over such a radical approach, saying that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez should “reconsider” such a drastic suggestion.

On September 21st, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez shared a letter addressed to New York Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Bill de Blasio that was cosigned by her fellow lawmakers Rep. Jamaal Bowman, Rep. Nydia Velazquez, and Rep. Jerry Nadler that called for the shutdown of Rikers and the release of inmates:

“We urgently write to you with concern on the current human rights violations and humanitarian crisis at Rikers Island Correctional Facility (Rikers). We strongly believe that those who are detained at Rikers should be immediately released and the facility shut down.

It has become evident that the conditions at Rikers – which is overseen by the New York City Department of Corrections and receives federal funding from the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program – are deplorable, and nothing short of a humanitarian crisis.”

The letter continues from there, pointing to recent in-custody deaths of inmates, allegations of severe overcrowding, citing risks associated with COVID-19, plumbing issues resulting in overflows and fecal matter on the ground, and numerous other allegations regarding the status of the facility.

And according to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, the issues impacting Rikers “is not a staffing shortage” but rather “a management issue that cannot be resolved with an increased headcount.”

NYPD Commissioner Shea recently appeared on 1010 WINS Newsroom and spoke with radio host Glenn Schuck to address Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s suggested actions, cautioning that the measures she’s suggesting – emptying the facility of inmates and shutting it down – presents severe public safety issues:

“I would strongly urge for her to reconsider that. That’s the last thing that we could have happen here. You have to remember the public, Glenn, and the impact that would have on public safety.”

Commissioner Shea noted that Rikers is home to some “pretty dangerous” offenders, and that simply releasing them into the public would be disastrous:

“These are some pretty dangerous people. To be releasing them into the public, I think, would be a disaster. This is from our view and we’d be happy to discuss it and lay the facts out on the table but when you look at who’s in Rikers Island it’s pretty hard to get in there these days.”

The NYPD commissioner isn’t oblivious to there being existing issues with the facility, but doesn’t think the solution to the ongoing issues is to simply close the facility and set everyone free:

“I think when you step back and look at it, I mean, it’s clearly a crisis right now. It’s a crisis for all involved, including the prisoners. So we gotta make sure we have a functioning jail that’s safe for the prisoners, and the inmates, safe for the guards, but also safe for the public.”

Commissioner Shea added that the NYPD will be helping with the facility where they can, having some officers man intake areas so that corrections officers who usually perform those duties can then go work directly inside of the facility:

“When you look at the attrition rates, and the sick rates in Corrections, we were asked to lend a hand. I mean, the NYPD is never going to say no.

[The officers] will not be assigned to Rikers Island, but they will free up some correction officers in the outer boroughs that man the intakes, if you will, and that will allow some of those correction officers to then be reassigned to Rikers. That’s the plan as it is now. It’s obviously fluid.”

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AOC calls rising crime “hysteria” and doubles down on police defunding

(Originally published June 28th, 2021)

In a recent discussion over Zoom between Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Jamaal Bowman, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez professed a desire to still explore defunding of police departments while brushing off recent reports of elevating crime levels in major cities. 

With being just over a year since the expression and calls for “defund the police” began circulating in the mainstream, recent polling shows that the notion is hardly popular. 

In fact, a USA Today poll showed that roughly 18% of respondents supported the idea of defunding police. Even when breaking down the respondents to self-identified Democrats, only 34% supported defunding of police. 

However, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez brushed off recent reports of major cities experiencing a surge and crime – calling it “hysteria” – while speaking with Rep. Bowman over a Zoom meeting earlier in June and proclaimed that officials should still “look at these numbers” and determine how police can be defunded: 

“We are seeing these headlines about percentage increases. Now, I want to say that any amount of harm is unacceptable and too much.”

“But I also want to make sure that this hysteria, you know, that this doesn’t drive a hysteria and that we look at these numbers in context so that we can make responsible decisions about what to allocate in that context.”

One has to keep in mind, that reports show cities like Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Portland, Austin and New York City – all cities that have engaged in some sort of police defunding – have experienced higher levels of crimes. 

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez happens to be the 14th District Representative of New York City, a city that defunded police and, as of March 2021, saw an 11.8% increase in murder, 40.1% increase in shooting incidents and a 39% increase in shootings victims when compared to data the previous year. 

During the conversation between Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Bowman, who also supports the idea of “reallocation of resources” from the NYPD to social programs, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez voiced her allegiance to police defunding: 

“I agree with Representative Bowman, that I do believe that we need to reallocate resources away and that a big, you know, major causes of this — and by the way, I also think it’s important context because we hear on the news and media, they perpetuate this idea of crime wave, crime wave, crime wave, right?”

“And so this idea that a lot of us are panicked thinking that we are at some unprecedented level that we’ve never seen before.”

While Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is accurate in noting that cities like New York City aren’t experiencing an “unprecedented” level of crime “that we’ve never seen before” – particularly the crime levels of the 1990s were much higher than today’s – crime didn’t go down due to removing funds and resources from police. 

report written by Steven D. Levitt in 2004 actually pointed to four specific reasons why crime that was rampant in the 1990s began to fall. One of the reasons cited was “increases in the number of police”. 

None of the other three reasons came anywhere close to highlighting the funding of social programs/services. 

But one of the other reasons Levitt wrote that helped reduce the crime levels from the 1990s was “the rising prison population” – as in, more people were being placed into jails and prisons for various offenses. 

Which, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez recently professed that one solution to reducing violent crime is reducing the number of jails. 

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Disgusting: AOC claims that war in Afghanistan was ‘immoral’, death of Marines ‘the human cost of war’ (op-ed)

(Originally published September 1st, 2021 – written by Scott A. Davis)

The following article contains editorial commentary which is the opinion of the author. 

NEW YORK CITY, NY – It is hard to imagine that a politician from New York would call the war in Afghanistan “immoral,” but that is exactly what Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said Thursday evening.

The war in Afghanistan was triggered after the horrific attacks on September 11, 2001, when al Qaeda terrorists hijacked and crashed commercial airliners into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon.

The heroic passengers and crew of another plane, Flight 93, fought back against the hijackers and crashed the aircraft in Pennsylvania, preventing yet another strike on Washington D.C.

In response to those attacks, then-President George W. Bush demanded the Taliban turn over al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden., who planned the attack from Afghan soil. When the Taliban refused, the United States invaded the country to hunt him down and prevent terrorists from striking from Afghan soil again.

Despite the history of why the war in Afghanistan was necessary, Ocasio-Cortez told MSNBC anchor Joy Reid that the death of 13 U.S. Marines in twin blasts outside Kabul airport Thursday was “the human cost of war”:

“Terrorism happened here on January 6th. We are seeing in Afghanistan right now a terrorist attack today that killed 13 of our troops, Marines and a member of the Navy.

But we’re also trying to get as many people out as possible. Talk about raising the cap, how can it be done, why should be done?

“To speak to today’s attack, what happened is just an absolute and utter travesty. These Marines that have passed away, 13 now, as well as 60 Afghans that died in the explosions, I mean, this is the human cost of war.”

The war was waged for the 2,977 people killed on 9/11, including the 2,763 New York victims including 343 firefighters and medics, 23 NYPD officers, and 37 Port Authority police officers.

It was also fought to prevent future Americans from dying in terror strikes launched from Afghanistan.

Ocasio-Cortez does not think the lost Americans were worth the cost, and said the United States is now indebted to the Afghan people:

“This is what makes war immoral. When it comes to the devastation that we have seen in Afghanistan, the United States plays a role.

We have a responsibility. In order to carry out and in order to make good on the role that we have played in this violence we have a responsibility to make a home for the people whose lives have been upended by interventionist U.S. foreign policy.

Ocasio-Cortez is calling on the Biden administration to accept at least 200,000 Afghan refugees into the country to make amends.

“So, as a result, I’m proud to have co-wrote a letter with Representative Barbara Lee to ask and urge the Biden administration to, as they set their refugee quotas, to make it no less than 200,000 in the upcoming year.”

Ocasio-Cortez was born and raised in New York City, and she was a pre-teen when the attacks on the World Trade Center occurred. It is difficult to understand how someone who lived through those agonizing and angering days could take such a callous position, especially someone who is supposed to represent the people.

Perhaps she does not recall the vivid anger and despair that gripped the nation following the attacks, and the calls of American citizens to hold those who planned the attacks to account. Perhaps she should watch a video of then-President George Bush telling reporters:

“I want justice. There’s an old poster out West that said, ‘Wanted, dead or alive.”’

Or perhaps she should watch the iconic, impromptu speech given by President Bush as he stood on the rubble at Ground Zero and told rescue workers:

“I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people – and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”

She should definitely listen to the lyrics of Darryl Worley’s song titled, “Have You Forgotten?” In the song, he asked the question AOC needs to answer:

“Have you forgotten how it felt that day

To see your homeland under fire-

And her people blown away

Have you forgotten when those towers fell-

We had neighbors still inside

Going through a living hell-

And you say we shouldn’t worry ’bout Bin Laden

Have you forgotten-

I’ve been there with the soldiers

Who’ve gone away to war-

And you can bet that they remember

Just what they’re fighting for.”

The voters remember, and hopefully will remember when Ocasio-Cortez said the war in Afghanistan was “immoral” and the death of U.S. Marines were “the human cost of war.”

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