- The Washington Times - Monday, July 13, 2020

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez claimed the skyrocketing violent crime in New York City can be attributed to out-of-work parents who are desperate to “shoplift some bread” for their children.

The Bronx Democratic socialist, an avid supporter of the defund the police movement, said during a virtual town hall that the significant uptick in shootings and homicides is due to millions of New Yorkers being newly unemployed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Why is this uptick in crime happening? Well, let’s think about it,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said, according to remarks shared by The Hill on Sunday. “Do we think this has to do with the fact that there’s record unemployment in the United States right now? The fact that people are at a level of economic desperation that we have not seen since the Great Recession?

“Maybe this has to do with the fact that people aren’t paying their rent and are scared to pay their rent and so they go out, and they need to feed their child and they don’t have money,” she continued, “so they’re put in a position where they feel like they either need to shoplift some bread or go hungry that night. Maybe it’s the fact that unemployment provisions have not been given to everyone. Maybe it’s because of the fact that some people still haven’t gotten their stimulus checks yet.”

The New York City Police Department recently reported a 130% increase in the number of shooting incidents across the city during the month of June, as well as a 30% increase in murders compared to the same time last year.

“The sharp increase in shootings and violence in New York puts innocent people at risk and tears at the fabric of life in our city,” said NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said last week. “The challenges are great for an NYPD facing the strain of deep budget cuts, changes to the criminal justice system that are impacting the courts and the continuing international health pandemic.”

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez insisted during her town hall that the increasing crime had nothing to do with the $1 billion NYPD budget cuts announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio, which have not yet taken effect, she said.

“Let me make something super clear for everyone,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said. “The New York City police department has not been defunded. Even with these budgetary changes that were proposed in City Council — A) They’re not fully enacted, B) they aren’t a real $1 billion in cuts, and C) It’s not really, like, these cuts aren’t really real. And again, they haven’t even happened yet. Literally, have not even happened yet.

“So, keep in mind that this uptick in crime that’s happening right now is with a $6 billion New York City Police Department budget,” she added. “We have funded more and more, we have shoved more and more and more money every single year into the NYPD — $6 billion. And it has not prevented this uptick in crime.”

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez defended her statements in a tweet Monday afternoon, writing that crime, violent or nonviolent, is “highly linked” to poverty.

“Republicans are all upset that I’m connecting the dots between poverty and crime,” she tweeted. “I know most of them haven’t experienced or seen these issues first hand, but I have. This may be hard for them to admit, but poverty and crime are highly linked, both violent & nonviolent alike.”

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez included a clip from her town hall in which she argued “crime is a symptom of a diseased society that neglects its most marginalized people.”

“One more thing … people who hold a curling iron in a hair salon have to go through more hours of training than a police officer does to wield a deadly weapon,” she scoffed. “Policing can be a Band-Aid … but it is not the solution to crime.”

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