“He’s randomly assaulting people. . . . What are we doing in society when we are releasing these people right back onto the street?” requested Police Commissioner Dermot Shea on Tuesday in the wake of Monday’s unprovoked assault of an Asian-American woman in Chinatown. “It’s craziness.”
Cops say the alleged Chinatown attacker, Alexander Wright, lives in a homeless shelter and was arrested 4 instances in the final yr for comparable random assaults. And he’s solely the newest in an extended line of dangerously troubled people who the metropolis can’t or gained’t deal with.
Refusing to confront this mental-health disaster could also be the worst failure of the de Blasio mayoralty.
The sample is all too acquainted to New Yorkers: The perpetrator is normally an unstable homeless particular person with an escalating historical past of weird, harmful behaviors. Here’s a partial checklist of the horrors:
- Last Friday, one other homeless man allegedly pushed one other Asian girl, 65, down a flight of stairs at a Midtown subway station. The suspect (John Chappell, 64) was busted final December in the unprovoked assault of girl ready for the R at the Herald Square station. He had 77 prior arrests then however bought a easy desk-appearance ticket.
- In January, a deranged man shoved a commuter right into a shifting practice at the Lexington Avenue/59th Street station.
- Just two weeks in February noticed greater than a dozen assaults, together with a quantity of subway slashings, a Bronx girl shoved onto the tracks and a bus operator struck with a 2-by-4.
- In early May, a Harlem man was shoved to the tracks in an unprovoked assault at the one hundred and thirty fifth Street/Lenox Avenue subway station.
- On May 23, 4 individuals, together with a cop, had been attacked in two separate incidents — the place one attacker wielded a hammer and the different had to be sedated — in the subway.
- A number of days later, a mumbling vagrant shoved a 36-year-old Asian man in entrance of an oncoming F practice in Queens.
Yet Mayor Bill de Blasio continues to flip a blind eye to the downside. Asked final October how he deliberate to tackle the metropolis’s mentally ill homeless downside, the mayor droned on about New Yorkers disturbed throughout the pandemic turning to his spouse’s scattershot $1.25 billion ThriveNYC program — which focuses not on this type of concern, however on lesser points corresponding to melancholy.
Also at fault are current state reforms that tie cops’ fingers and set harmful individuals free. Jail is much from the best remedy for the deeply troubled, however no less than it will get a risk off the road till the metropolis can step in with providers. It will not be humane, to both the sufferer or the perpetrator, to let the ill go untreated. It will not be compassionate to go away a mentally ill particular person sleeping on the road — they aren’t of their proper thoughts once they say they need to be there.
After the vacation weekend’s violence, mayoral candidate Eric Adams called on de Blasio to undertake his anti-crime insurance policies — together with, crucially, a lot larger use of Kendra’s Law to mandate remedy for dangerously mentally ill people.
“Judges, do your job. It’s time to use Kendra’s Law to deal with the mental-health crisis that we’re seeing,” said Adams as he stood with members of the Transport Workers Union final month.
The regulation, now twenty years outdated, lets courts order critically mentally ill individuals with a previous historical past of violence and who pose a risk of future violence to enter outpatient remedy. But it will probably’t assist if metropolis leaders don’t demand its use (and push the Legislature to strengthen it).
If these assaults develop extra frequent as metropolis streets get crowded once more, vacationers and workplace staff gained’t come again in the numbers Gotham needs. City Hall needs to begin coping with it, or de Blasio will even go down in historical past as the man who bungled New York’s post-pandemic reopening.