New York has been having a tough time over the last few months. First, it suffered the brunt of COVID-19 outbreak. Then, it became one of the big centers of Black Lives Matter demonstrations. But there has been another problem plaguing the city in the last two months.
The Big Apple has seen a tremendous spike in gun violence. According to statistics, the period between June 15 and July 2 saw cases of shootings increase by 200 percent as compared to the same period of the previous year. During Independence Day weekend, 64 people suffered gunshot wounds out of which 11 succumbed to their injuries.
All this happens while there is increased pressure upon authorities to cut police funding. 'Defund the Police' has been one of the battle cries of the anti-racism protestors. A cut of $1 billion has already been proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
But Democratic Member of House of Representatives in US Congress from New York Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has targeted President Donald Trump and put the blame for increased incidents of gun violence upon him. Speaking at a virtual town hall, AOC linked the increased cases of shooting to the unemployment rate.
"Do we think this has to do with the fact that there's record unemployment in the United States right now? The fact that people are at a level of economic desperation that we have not seen since the Great Recession," the Congresswoman stated.
Speaking further on the issue of a possible linkage between economic hardships and the increase in crime rate, the 30-year old added:
"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 so you... maybe have to (commit a crime) ... they're put in a position... they feel like they either need to shoplift some bread or go hungry that night."
'Defunding the Police'
She also hit back at claims that the decrease in police funding, something that is vehemently opposed by conservatives, is behind the spike in cases of shooting. Ocasio-Cortez pointed out that the cuts are only at the stage of the proposal and haven't taken effect.
These comments from AOC can be seen in two ways. They can be regarded as an important intervention drawing attention to a serious cause of increased crime rate. But those of a different political persuasion than the representative of New York in the US Congress may see her comments as a tactic to deflect blame towards the President.
Unemployment has been relatively low and economic indicators stable during President Trump's tenure. However, the COVID-19 crisis put everything in a tailspin, especially in NYC. Whether the relief measures by the government relieve the distress of struggling businessmen would be an important development to watch.