Soaring Crime Rates and Their Effects on Minorities

By: Valeria Castro

Since the pandemic hit, New York City’s crime rates have risen, affecting residents, especially minority groups in counties such as Queens. However, efforts are currently being made in order to combat these surging crime rates. More people are beginning to voice their opinions through letters to the mayor, expressing their concerns over public safety.

Mayor Eric Adams is attending public conventions in Queens to hear the people’s concerns on the subject, attempting to reform public safety by getting to the root of the crime issue and finding ways to
combat it. Moreover, Queen’s city councils are attempting to abolish the gang database bill– a notorious police tool, that according to them, has been used for several years to target ethnic people for crimes they didn’t commit.

Residents of Queens are growing tired of seeing the same news headlines on television and have even written letters to the mayor in a cry for help. According to a letter to the editor posted on the Queens (Chronicle’s) site, a resident states recent crime rate statistics have increased by 30.5%, with murders rising by 34.3% and shootings by 13.3% since July 2021. He emphasizes the importance of working together as a community in raising kids in a healthy environment, and provides ideas on ways to give people a sense of security; putting up posters, flyers, and ads of the NYPD giving encouraging quotes on how they will keep us safe from gun violence. He mentions how unsafe he feels in the community as a senior citizen, and implores Mayor Eric Adams to make changes to keep communities safe. This letter highlights the significance of the need for a community to unify to combat the continuous violence in Queens neighborhoods for the benefit of the people.

Recently, the mayor is starting to attend public conventions to hear the people’s opinions and thoughts about safety in their communities. According to the Queens Chronicle, on October 6, Mayor Eric Adams held a Public convention in Forest Hills. His goal was to get to the root of the crime issues and find ways to combat them for the betterment of the people. Many shared their opinions based on how they felt in their communities. A resident of Queens expressed concerns over how insecure they feel in their neighborhood, stating that even though they carry pepper spray, they still don’t feel safe. During the convention, they discussed recent incidents, such as the attack in Howard Beach— where a woman was brutally beaten to the point of losing vision in one eye.

The topic then shifted to discussing the root of crime in Queens. The Borough President, Donovan Richards, expressed his concerns on equity in the city, and how incarcerations mainly affect people in poverty. Mayor Adams followed up by stating the recurring pattern in our society; incarcerating the same people for a felony they’ve committed about 30-40 times and shortly releasing them, increasing the risks of committing that same crime. (queenschronicle.com) Mayor Adams’s statements convey that the cause of these surging crime rates lies in the criminal justice system. The chances of a prisoner being convicted for the same crimes they committed in the past are higher each time they are released. So, it’s a never-ending pattern of releasing and convicting the same person.

Furthermore, according to articles published by the Queens Chronicles, and the Astoria Post, three city council members, Tiffany Caban, Julie Won, and Shekar Krishnan, are co-sponsoring a bill to abolish the gang database—a police system that they say is used to create allegations against people who were suspected to be involved in gangs. Michael Dothan, a writer for The Astoria post, and Sean Okula, a writer for the Queens Chronicle, quoted Queens council member, Tiffany Caban on her stance on the system. She says the system does nothing to reduce crime instead it “intensifies” it, and claims she has seen prosecutors use the gang database system to pressure false confessions out of people. She also stated that as a result, police were pinpointing kids on the list who have on many occasions worn the wrong colors at the wrong
time.

Moreover, according to the Astoria Post, the public says police have taken advantage of
the system to target people of color, especially in 2018 with Police Commissioner Dermont Shea
when 99% of the people in the database were people of color. Residents of Queens neighborhoods such as Jackson Heights, feel insecure with where they live, even when going outside. In an interview with Ana Julia Almeida, a resident of Jackson Heights, she opened up about the perception she has formed of the neighborhood based on her experiences. “Ridiculous,” she said when questioned about the crime rates. “I get notifications daily about someone getting pushed in the train station, robbed, or stabbed.” She mentions how untrustworthy people are around the area, and how unsafe she feels whenever she
walks out at night.

The crime rates in Queens neighborhoods have been impacting different groups of
citizens, including ethnic groups, senior citizens, and children. Everyone agrees that crime rates must start decreasing for the benefit of our community and people. But how can we as a community help in lowering these crime rates? Well, there are numerous ways in which you can help combat this issue; you can write letters to the mayor or any political representative if you have ideas on how you believe this issue should be taken care of and post them on sites such as the Queens Chronicle. You can also vote for candidates in your district
during the midterm elections that advocate for criminal reform. Moreover, you can attend public conventions to hear what ideas are being forethought, and have an opportunity to voice your concerns to political authorities (sp) such as Mayor Eric Aams, and Queens officials. The only
way to restore our communities is through time, effort, and dedication, with people working together we can hopefully start seeing a change in the future.

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