Fresh controversy surrounding embattled NYC mayor Bill De Blasio has occurred following a video of he and first lady, Chirlane McCray, dancing in an empty Times Square to celebrate the end of 2020. Days earlier, De Blasio warned city residents to avoid Times Square during New Years Eve, because the commercial section of Midtown Manhattan is typically full of spectators watching the ball drop to commemorate the end of the year. This image has come to represent the failure of De Blasio’s tenure as mayor, particularly in the last calendar year.
When the year began, it had become routine for New Yorkers to complain about De Blasio. After all, he did spend the latter half of 2019 running a futile campaign for President in the crowded Democratic primary. The campaign came a few months after a devastating reversal by Amazon, who reneged on their promise to build a new headquarters in Queens and create 25,000 good paying jobs after progressive backlash. In addition, questions arose about the outsized role first lady Chirlane McCray was playing in the administration, especially with regards to the lost public funds given to her mental health non-profit ThriveNYC.
On March 2 2020, Bill De Blasio infamously tweeted for New Yorkers “to go on with your lives + get out on the town despite Coronavirus.” The second case of coronavirus had been discovered in a Westchester County lawyer who worked in the city.
It took De Blasio ten extra days to declare a state of emergency, and when he finally did so, De Blasio defied lockdown orders to workout at a gym in Midtown Manhattan. This embarrassing episode was one of many PR disasters for De Blasio in his mayoral tenure, but none had been so painfully representative of his utter failure in handling the Covid pandemic.
In what was later documented by left-leaning investigative journalism outlet ProPublica, De Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo both refused to listen to health advisors regarding Covid-19 and cost thousands of lives by not acting fast enough. Seven months later, New York State has the most coronavirus deaths of any state, with many coming in New York City.
Towards the end of May, another unexpected crisis shook the city to its core. Widespread rioting by Black Lives Matter protestors had broken out after the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis cop. On May 31, De Blasio issued a statement criticizing how the NYPD handled the militant protests. A few hours later, another humiliation came in the arrest of De Blasio’s lesser known daughter at a nighttime riot. To counteract the mounting anger, De Blasio instituted a draconian 8PM curfew that only heightened tensions between the violent demonstrators and law enforcement. By June 7, the mayor ended the curfew and promised to acquiesce to the militants’ demands to defund the police. The July budget for the next fiscal year saw over $1 billion taken from the police to spend on education and affordable housing.
Following the demoralization and defunding of the police supported by De Blasio, crime rates in New York City have spiked in a trend that has swept cities across the country. In what has been called the “Ferguson effect,” first seen after the initial wave of Black Lives Matter demonstrations back in 2014, the protests against police have led to massive outbreaks in violent crime. The figures for New York City have been staggering; shootings are up 97%, murders increased 45%, and from June-September 2020 more shootings were recorded than all of 2019. These numbers represented a 14-year high in violent crime; an ironic statistic given how De Blasio’s political ascent began.
In another cruel twist of fate, there appears to be a new “tale of two cities” as most of the violence has been recorded in poor minority communities.
Some observers have attributed the sharp rise in violence to bail reform enacted by New York State that made it easier for violent offenders to get out of jail. It is true that slightly more murders had been committed from January-May of 2020 than the previous year, but the total was a mere 4% higher than the year before. The numbers show that the violent crime increase in New York City largely occurred after the Black Lives Matter demonstrators successfully pressured the local government into defunding the police.
In what De Blasio used to brag was the “safest big city in America,” the year 2020 saw a surge in violence, mass lockdowns, widespread economic ruin, and thousands of lives lost to the coronavirus pandemic. With the mayor poised to depart as possibly the worst mayor in the city’s history, one image that will define this nightmarish year will be the Times Square dance De Blasio shared with his wife.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.