Hours after the news about the heartbreaking death of a one-year-old boy in Brooklyn, Mayor de Blasio — for the second week in a row — spent much of his Monday press briefing feeling the heat over violence from the weekend before.
De Blasio took question after question about an NYPD officer tasering a protester in Brooklyn, a protester roughing up a newspaper reporter just steps from City Hall and the tragic death of the baby boy who was gunned amid a fusillade of bullets.
“We can never give up on our children. We can never give up on our families. We can never give up on our neighborhoods, no matter how tough it seems,” de Blasio said Monday before taking questions from reporters. “We’ve seen such tough days in the past and we fought our way back, and it means the whole community has to be involved. It’s never just about police. It has to be community and police together.”
The mayor’s words — which seemed at times like a dirge to the young boy, but also a rallying cry to a hobbled, hollowed-out feeling city — came as New Yorkers reeled over the death of Davell Gardner Jr. the one-year-old who was shot minutes before midnight Sunday at a Bedford Stuyvesant cookout.
But as tragic as that shooting is, it wasn’t the only cause for renewed hand-wringing as violent crime continued to surge over the weekend.
A 12-year old boy was shot in the leg in Crown Heights. A 15-year-old was shot in the wrist in Harlem.
In Bay Ridge, a clash between protesters and cops escalated when one officer tasered a man, an incident captured on videotape and posted online. And just steps from City Hall, protesters were caught via camera phone footage of physically accosting a newspaper reporter filming their encampment.
De Blasio said the incident in Bay Ridge is under investigation and that he did not like what he saw on the video. He said he “heard” reports of the journalist being attacked, but that for an investigation to get underway, the reporter would have to press charges.
“To the best of my understanding he has not pressed charges,” Hizzoner said of that incident. “We take all of this seriously, but the bottom line is we always want to figure out the best way to balance safety with the other rights people have.”
De Blasio also denied that the NYPD is engaged in a work slowdown despite some indications to the contrary. He suggested that he doesn’t regret Police Commissioner Dermot Shea’s decision one month ago to scrap the NYPD’s Anti-Crime Unit, a plainclothes division responsible for getting guns off the street.
“You have to understand that this whole seven-year effort has been to recognize that safety comes from a bond between police and community,” he said. “It is based on that bond between police and community, and I think for him that was the essence of the decision — finding a way to do the same results but in a different and smarter way.”
De Blasio said the directive to get guns off the streets hasn’t changed and is still “preeminent.”
“A lot of the things that work best is making community members allies in that effort,” he said. “We’re going to keep making adjustments till we get it right.”
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