Eric Adams’ War On Crime Will Be A War On The People

 Bob Avakian denounces New York City Mayor Eric Adams' "extremely regressive program" to fight gun violence.
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In the following article, writer Bob Avakian denounces New York City Mayor Eric Adams' "extremely regressive program"  to fight gun violence.

On the night of January 21, two police responded to a call to help in a mental health crisis in a Harlem apartment. By the time the night was over, one of the cops was dead, and the person in crisis and the second cop died days after from injuries received that day. Beyond that, nobody knows what happened.

But the response of the newly elected “ex”-cop mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, has been to intensify what was already shaping up as an ugly, vicious war on the people in the city with by far the biggest concentration of Black people in America, as well as Latinos and immigrants of all nationalities.

That night Adams brayed, “It is our city against the killers. This was not an attack on three brave officers. This was an attack on the city of New York...”

And his words splashed across the headlines of the media.

Bullshit! The only attack on “the city” was the way Eric Adams moved to implement an extremely repressive program, a war on the people. And he, with the full cooperation of the media, both fascist and liberal, is working to swing the city behind him on this.

On Monday, Adams unveiled his Blueprint to End Gun Violence. Here are four key aspects of Adams’ war on the people.

The Blueprint reads: “Putting More Officers on Patrol” and “Enhancing existing Public Safety Units with new Neighborhood Safety Teams.” This will begin within the next three weeks “with a special focus on the 30 precincts where 80% of violence occurs.”

Translation: In Adam’s own words, “We will have boots on the ground, on every block in the city.” He is literally using military terminology in announcing that police will be descending on the communities of the oppressed as an occupying military force, jacking up youth of color, and feeling unfettered now to carry out their brutality. The Neighborhood Safety Teams are just the newly renamed Street Crimes Unit, infamous for the murder of Amadou Diallo in a hail of 41 bullets in 1999; they were also a key part of carrying out stop-and-frisk, in which hundreds of thousands of people, mainly Black and other youth of color, were harassed, humiliated and often abused, with the vast majority then let go because the police had no valid reason for the stop in the first place.

The Blueprint reads: Under a section on Bail Reform, “We must approach pretrial detention through the lens of public safety, something that is not done now. The Adams Administration will propose a common-sense, targeted set of reforms to strengthen our bail laws to change the law as soon as possible.”

Translation: This means that a judge will have the right to decide, pretrial, when a person is supposed to be presumed innocent, whether this person is “dangerous” and therefore has no right to even get the option of bail while awaiting trial. This would be simply based on their criminal record or what they have been charged with, which has nothing to do with whether they actually committed a crime. This means innocent people can be held in jail until trial, which in many cases could be years. This practice was so heinous that in 1971 a law was passed to prevent it, which Adams now wants to repeal in what he claims is “a common sense” approach.

This “common sense logic” leaves legal loop holes big enough to drive whole fleets of paddy wagons filled with youth and others deemed "dangerous" through them, leading to jail and prison populations exploding and the horrors of Rikers Island jail (where people are held while awaiting trial) multiplying.

Even now, 85% of the 5,400 prisoners being held at Rikers Island jail have not been found guilty of anything—they are locked up in Rikers simply because they cannot afford bail.

The Blueprint reads: “Discovery—Removing overly burdensome disclosures. The voluminous requirements of the new discovery bill have jammed up too many cases.”

Translation: Adams’ proposal undercuts and effectively guts recent amendments in the law on discovery which strengthen a defendant’s rights to a speedy and fair trial. The point of the law is that the state cannot proceed with a trial if they don’t disclose the evidence they have to the defense attorney early in the process, but Adams wants a much more unfettered ability to hold masses for indefinite periods, forcing many into pleas.

Additionally, this Blueprint has a real focus on making people complicit in enforcing it—either through misplaced “self-interest” or intimidation by denying youth their constitutional right to remain silent, “funding” store owners to place at least one camera facing the public sphere, and rewards offered for “gun-related information that leads to an arrest.” This goes hand in hand with convincing the public that the enhanced technology and surveillance in public spaces, which is also part of the Blueprint, is “to keep them safe”—so forget about any privacy concerns or constitutional rights or any political activity that falls outside the approval of the state.

Finally, although not in the Blueprint but still an essential part of his war on the people is what Adams has said and already done about Rikers Island, a notorious hellhole of a prison. Just last year, 16 people died in Rikers Island and other NYC jails, many from violence or COVID.

Adams has called for the reinstatement of solitary confinement at Rikers and has made a big point of his enthusiastic and uncritical support of the highly corrupt, highly brutal Correction Officers’ “Benevolent” Association union at Rikers (whose former leader and Adams supporter Norman Seabrook now sits in jail on corruption charges).

Recent exposures have shown how the union itself is practically dictating the policies of how Rikers is run, including the throwing out of 2,000 cases of guard abuse and the firing of the investigator of the cases. Unlike his predecessor, Adams is not even going to pretend to shut down Rikers—in fact, in concert with the rest of his Blueprint, including reversal of any bail reform, that hellhole and others like it will be flooded with youth.

We have seen the very harsh reality of the true hell hole of Rikers, particularly for youth, in the lives and deaths of Kalief Browder and Layleen Polanco. In response, Adams speaks with the unvarnished ugliness and inhumanity of the lead defender and protector of a system in New York City built on the blood and bones, the exploitation and oppression of masses of people here and all over the world, that has no future for the Kaliefs and Layleens of this world.

A “Swaggering” Oppressor

Adams said, “When a mayor has swagger, the city has swagger. That’s what has been missing in the city.” Yeah, the swagger of a bloated defender of this system of exploitation and oppression. Adams responded to a new city council member’s plea to stop the solitary confinement of youth at Rikers—solitary confinement which has driven youth to suicide—with these words:

“I wore a bullet-proof vest for 22 years and protected the people of this city. And when you do that, you have the right to question me on safety and public safety matters.”

Hell NO! Not only do we have the right but also the necessity for every decent person to resist this!

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