Mayor de Blasio suggested last week that “politics” is motivating Times Square business leaders who are raising alarm about gun violence in the wake of the Midtown tourist hotspot seeing its third shooting in as many months.
Speaking during his daily briefing from City Hall, de Blasio said the NYPD is already beefing up patrols in the area and that those reinforcements should “be respected” by Times Square businesses “because it’s going to work.”
“If someone has an opinion that’s great, someone wants to, you know, stand up for their particular area or their constituency — and I understand those politics — that’s great,” the mayor said. “But let’s talk about what we see happening in New York City. We see businesses opening constantly, we see jobs coming back, we see outdoor dining booming, we see tourism coming back. It’s all happening. It’s happening because New Yorkers are fighting back.”
But business owners in Times Square beg to differ.
They say recent shooting sprees in Times Square could hurt their bottom line as tourists avoid the area for fear of getting hurt.
“The de Blasio administration needs to stop making excuses and develop effective strategies and take immediate action,” Tom Harris, the president of the Times Square Alliance, said after at least four shots rang out early Wednesday in the Crossroads of the World as part of an apparent road rage dispute.
In response, de Blasio spokesman Bill Neidhardt claimed Harris’ comments were “not productive” and “insulting” to “the police officers who have come from across the city to Times Square in a good faith effort.”
The Wednesday shooting came on the heels of bystanders being hit by stray bullets in May and June incidents that police said were linked to turf wars between street vendors and break dancers.
No one was killed in the three Times Square shootings, though four people — including a 4-year-old girl — got hit by stray bullets.
Still, de Blasio insisted at Thursday’s briefing that concerns about the violence are misplaced because the NYPD has it covered.
“We have been constantly engaging business improvement districts, Times Square and many others, making adjustments where people raise concerns. We take them really seriously. That’s why we’d like to see a little consistency if we’re working with people constantly trying to address issues together, and it’s good for everyone to recognize that,” he said. “Times Square, we put a huge number of officers there, everyone sees it, and we’ll keep them there as long as we need, and we will address the issues.”
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