Manhattan’s new progressive district attorney, Alvin Bragg, says his office is confronting an increase in gun violence.
“We know we’ve seen an uptick in gun crimes, and we’re working on that every day, working with our law-enforcement partners on tracking the guns that are flowing into our communities as people sit from far away and profit off of our pain,” he told the National Action Network at an event for the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“Your first civil right is the right to walk safely to your corner store, so as your district attorney, I’m working on that every day,” he said. “We cannot have safety without fairness, and we cannot have fairness without safety.”
Bragg recently sent guidance to his office declaring that he wants to decrease crackdowns on several offenses including marijuana possession, turnstile jumping, trespassing, resisting arrest, interfering with an arrest, and prostitution. He called for the “decriminalization/non prosecution” of these crimes to “make us safer,” according to reports.
Just after effectively eliminating penalties for a number of crimes, Bragg admitted Monday that gun crime is ravaging the city and at a rising rate.
Bragg received a lot of backlash for his recent directive, which also called for downgrading felony charges in cases including armed robberies and drug dealing. The office will “not seek carceral sentence other than for homicide” or “class B violent felony in which a deadly weapon causes serious injury, domestic violence felonies,” with a few exceptions, Bragg’s memo read.
“This rule may be excepted only in extraordinary circumstances based on a holistic analysis of the facts, criminal history, victim’s input (particularly in cases of violence or trauma), and any other information available,” it added.
Bragg said that “reserving incarceration for matters involving significant harm will make us safer.”
In response to the memo, the New York Police Benevolent Association released a statement expressing “serious concerns” with the proposal, suggesting that it could send a problematic message to police officers as well as criminals.
Many offenders already believe they can “commit crimes, resist arrest, interfere with police officers, and face zero consequences,” the association said, implying that such a policy would exacerbate defiance and disrespect toward the rule of law and those who are entrusted with enforcing it.