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Bill de Blasio Wants NYPD to Visit People to Warn over Non-Criminal ‘Hurtful’ Conduct

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed police visits to people accused of “hurtful” behavior in the wake of anti-Asian American crimes during a press conference on Thursday.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said the NYPD could visit those accused of racism or discrimination, “even if something is not a criminal case.” The exchange happened near the end of the “media availability” event when a Washington Post reporter questioned de Blasio about his response to reports of racism, specifically toward Asian Americans over the course of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it is a reality we have to overcome that some people experience something horrible and don’t know where to turn,” de Blasio said, “or aren’t sure if they should report it.” De Blasio continued:

And my message to all New Yorkers and particularly to Asian American New Yorkers at this point, is please report what you see. We need it. We need to know what’s happening. We need to know if you’ve been treated wrongly. If you’ve been a victim of discrimination, if you have 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. We need to know everything we can to find those who did it and bring them to justice. Because I’m a believer that we of course need the bigger efforts, the education, the outreach, but we also need consequences.

The reporter followed the response by asking how the Mayor would view cases where the lines are burry. “[If] it’s something that’s not a criminal case,” she asked, “how would the NYPD confront someone if it’s not criminal? Would they have a conversation with them to say, ‘Hey, that’s actually not cool?’”

“Well, that’s exactly what happens. Whether again, it’s NYPD or it could be other agencies as well, but NYPD is a great example,” de Blasio said. “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.” He went on:

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. That’s why we need every report – 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 calls you or shows up at your door to ask about something that you did, that makes people think twice. And we need that.

The mayor touted his administration’s efforts at creating “a new policy to widen the definition of what would qualify as hate crimes. And to widen the tracking, improve the tracking of hate crimes,” while blaming former President Donald Trump for increased racial tensions. “This is a problem, and let’s be blunt and honest,” he said. “It’s a problem that emerged, particularly in the last four years in this city and in this country. We all know that the forces of hatred were unleashed by Donald Trump.”

“That is not a news flash. We know more and more hate speech has occurred, more and more people who are hateful have felt emboldened,” he continued, adding “[We’ve] got to deal with that aggressively,” including “[following] up aggressively,” with those who have not committed a hate crime, so “people feel the presence of law enforcement in the city watching them to make sure this does not happen again.”

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