AOC suggests NYC crime spike linked to unemployment and parents shoplifting to feed children

'They feel like they either need to shoplift some bread or go hungry'

Louise Hall
Monday 13 July 2020 16:34 BST
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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says NYC crime spike partly caused by parents shoplifting food for their hungry families

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Louise Thomas

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New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has insisted that spikes in New York crime are not related to police budget cuts but people needing to pay rent and feed their children.

In a virtual town hall meeting on Thursday, reported by The Hill, AOC was questioned about the significant rise in crime in the city.

“Do we think this has to do with the fact that there’s record unemployment in the United States right now?” she said.

“The fact that people are at a level of economic desperation that we have not seen since the Great Recession?”

The Democratic representative went on to reinforce that the rates were due to the failure of the federal government to effectively provide unemployment provisions and stimulus checks.

“Maybe this has to do with the fact that people aren’t paying their rent and are scared to pay their rent and so they go out, and they need to feed their child and they don’t have money,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez continued. “So they feel like they either need to shoplift some bread or go hungry.”

Authorities have said that crime numbers have recently surged in the city, with shootings in New York City last month reaching more than double the previous June.

New York’s Police Department (NYPD) said in a statement that incidents had “significantly spiked” and risen across all boroughs, despite some restrictions in place over the Covid-19 pandemic.

CNN reported that burglaries have also sharply increased, with 1,691 incidents as compared to 759 the year before, with car thefts having also increased over 60 per cent.

In light of the statistics, NYPD police commissioner Dermot Shea said: “The sharp increase in shootings and violence in New York puts innocent people at risk and tears at the fabric of life in our city”.

The commissioner added that the department had been hit with “deep budget cuts” alongside changes to the criminal justice system due to Covid-19.

AOC insisted that the rise in crime could not be a result of budget cuts that have been proposed in light of the death of George Floyd and national civil unrest over police brutality and systemic racism.

“Let me make something super clear for everyone here having this question. The NYPD has not been defunded,” she said.

New York City Mayor Bill de-Blasio proposed cutting $1bn (£814m) from the police force’s $6bn (£4.48bn) yearly budget, a move that AOC has publicly voiced support for.

“They haven’t even happened yet,” she said. “Keep in mind that this uptick in crime that’s happening right now is with a $6bn NYPD budget”.

“Our $6bn budget has not prevented this uptick in crime,” she added.

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