Congressional Republicans traveled to Manhattan to hold a sham Judiciary Committee hearing Monday morning that fearmongered about crime in New York City with the ultimate goal of undermining Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s prosecution of former president Donald Trump.
As the U.S. House Judiciary Committee descended upon Manhattan to hold a politicized hearing, the same New York City leaders and police officials who have been cynically claiming that rollbacks to bail reform are necessary took to the media to push back against House Republican lies about crime. In doing so, they exposed their own lies in the months-long campaign for mass pretrial detention.
Congressional Republicans traveled to Manhattan to hold a sham Judiciary Committee hearing Monday morning that fearmongered about crime in New York City with the ultimate goal of undermining Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s prosecution of former president Donald Trump. Chairman Jim Jordan lied about crime statistics in New York City and advocated for failed tough-on-crime policies while exploiting the pain of victims of crime and their families for political gain, tactics that are familiar to New Yorkers.
In anticipation of the hearing, NYPD commissioner Keechant Sewell and Mayor Eric Adams took to network television to state that New York City is among the safest in the country and cite statistics showing that crime is down in New York City.
“New York City crime is really trending in the right direction. Shootings are down, homicides are down…” Adams told CNN’s Don Lemon. “But this is really a charade and it's just unfortunate, during a time like this, they will use taxpayers dollars to host this charade.”
Adams and Sewell took a much different public approach to crime when defending New York City from House Republicans than they did when making statements about bail reform. Adams has fearmongered about rearrests, advocated for mass pretrial detention and misrepresented the state’s bail laws, and often falsely tied bail reform to instances of crime during his time as mayor. He has been a leading voice in advocating for misguided, regressive changes to the state’s bail laws.
In her short time as police commissioner, Sewell has scapegoated bail reform for increases in crime, falsely linked rearrests to bail reform, lied about the law, and taken to the media to fearmonger about bail reform.
Sewell, Adams, and allies like Gov. Kathy Hochul have for months been doing exactly what House Republicans attempted to do this week: scaring the public into believing that New York City is an unsafe place for political gain. House Republicans hope to undermine Bragg’s prosecution of Trump; New York leaders like Adams and Hochul hope to roll back bail reform and jail thousands of Black, brown and poor New Yorkers.
Regardless of political motivation, the reality is clear: any claims about “record” crime in New York City are unequivocally false. Major crimes in New York City are far below the record levels of the 1990s. In Manhattan, murders are down 84 percent, robberies are down 85 percent, and rapes are down 49 percent since 1990.
While crime increased in 2021 and 2022, the trend followed similar patterns across the country in the wake of COVID-19 disruptions, according to reporting in Gothamist. Most categories of major crime are down in 2023 in Manhattan.
New York City consistently ranks among the safest large cities in the United States. Its murder rate is third-lowest among the 10 largest cities in the country, and lower than the murder rate in Columbus, Ohio, on the edge of Rep. Jim Jordan’s district.
The committee hearing is a political stunt employed to undermine Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg and protect former president Donald Trump. House Republicans don’t care about real solutions to reduce harm in New York. If they did, they wouldn’t be threatening to cut federal funding for victims of crime – the same people the committee heard stories from Monday – in the city.
Committee members used dog-whistles and exploited the pain of victims of crime and their family members to falsely claim Bragg’s policies have led to instances of violence in New York City. There was no discussion of policy that researchers say address root causes of harm and reduce crime. These solutions include non-police responses to behavioral health crises, expanded access to crisis centers and mental health resources within communities, permanent supportive housing programs (which can reduce jail time and produce significant fiscal and social benefits), investments in community mediation programs, and community violence intervention programs that rely on credible messengers, which are associated with reductions in violence.
While the GOP is the face of lies about crime and New York City this week, it is critical to note that New York Democratic leaders like Adams and Hochul are and have been the leaders of the same fearmongering campaign for months, with the ultimate political goal of jailing more vulnerable New Yorkers.