Mayor Admits During Television Interview: 'We Do Have A Shooting Problem'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Using a coffin and body bags to make their point, angry demonstrators rallied in City Hall Park on Wednesday to demand that Mayor Bill de Blasio try new tactics to curb the city’s soaring murder rate.

As CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported, New York City has seen a nearly 20 percent increase in homicides so far this year.

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“There’s too many people dying in the city of New York, and I’m under the premise of conversation with a number of leaders in our community who feel that this mayor is not sensitive to those that are dying in our neighborhoods,” community activist Tony Herbert said.

Members of the Brooklyn Clergy Coalition and other community leaders have devised a One Family One Community initiative, which calls for tackling the issue of violence by sending more than 10,000 mentors into neighborhoods, schools and housing developments with the highest rate of gang and gun violence.

They said they’ve tried to talk to de Blasio about it, but he has refused.

“The blood on your hands … those who are dying in our community, is on your hands, Mayor de Blasio, because you’re not sitting with the people that can get to the people in the community to make the differences that we need to make happen,” Herbert told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb.

“At the end of the day, we have to work as a collective,” he added. “The city has to work with the community, not walk around and call people fearmongers, to insult us when we’re out here on every day, every aspect of the night — 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock in the morning — in the housing developments to try to stop violence.”

Added Michael Thomas, a youth advocate program director: “If we don’t get some help from City Hall, we’re going to have more caskets.”

“Mayor, your kids grew up in a decent environment. What we’re asking for is all our kids to have the opportunity to grow up,” Thomas added. “You can’t live in a society where you’re going to be held captive, like the kids can’t play outside.”

Herbert said he supports a return to stop-and-frisk in a more moderated form, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.

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Appearing on “The Daily Show” on Tuesday, de Blasio acknowledged the city has seen an alarming spike in shootings this year, but also said it’s an issue the Police Department is handling. As of next week, 330 officers will be pulled from their usual duties for special patrols aimed at the shootings spike.

De Blasio defended curtailing the controversial “stop-and-frisk” policing technique and touted an overall drop in crime.

“We brought down murder to a rate we had not seen since the early ’60s,” de Blasio said. “We brought down crime across the board. We do have a shooting problem. We had a shooting problem last year; we have a shooting problem this year.”

The mayor said that the shootings are centered around gang violence, and the city is rolling out aggressive anti-gang policing and intervention.

“Those strategies need to be applied,” de Blasio said. “Going back to an unconstitutional, alienating approach is not only inappropriate and unfair to the populace, it doesn’t work. It ties up a ton of police time and energy into things that aren’t actually going after serious crime. So I think we’re broadly on the right track.”

De Blasio cited police retraining, body cameras and new technology as elements his administration is bringing to bear in the fight against crime.

“I think these pieces are going to add up,” de Blasio said. “Because people are not wasting time on unnecessary and unconstitutional stops, and they’re not wasting time on low-level marijuana arrests either.”

In Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, there were nine shootings last month. That’s more than double the number for the same time last year, 1010 WINS reported. Some residents are calling for the mayor to drop his opposition to a City Council plan to hire an additional 1,000 police officers.

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