NEW YORK—A recently formed group, Hispanics for Safe Communities, held a rally on the steps of City Hall on Thursday, Oct. 17, speaking out against Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio’s stance on crime.
Roughly 20 people, who said they were not affiliated with rival Republican Joe Lhota’s campaign, blasted de Blasio for saying he will reduce stop and frisk, saying it will return the city to the crime-filled days of the 1970s and 1980s.
“We don’t want to go back to the past Mr. de Blasio,” said Dan Esquilin of the New York State Puerto Rican Party. “We don’t want stop and frisk ending because that will only empower the criminals to believe they can go out here and abuse people like this in our community.”
Lhota’s Attack Ad
The message echoed much of what Lhota has said throughout his campaign, including a chilling ad the campaign began running yesterday. The ad shows video of the recent biker gang attack on the West Side Highway, and historical scenes from riots of the 1980s.
The ad has received intense criticism.
“That ad was inappropriate, and way over the top. It was fear mongering,” de Blasio said on Thursday morning following a press conference. “I think that is not leadership.”
De Blasio saw much of the city rally around his calls to end unconstitutional stop and frisk, with the stance being one of the key components to his fast rise over the summer. While both men want to ensure no more unconstitutional stops, Lhota has said he would like to have current Police Commissioner Ray Kelly back, and that he would continue stop and frisk, but ensure it is done constitutionally.
The group, based in the South Bronx, was organized by Dr. Juan Reyes. He said he had no contact with Lhota prior to the event. After seeing the de Blasio’s stance on stop and frisk, and the debates on Tuesday, Dr. Reyes said he felt compelled to act.
De Blasio’s Response
Prior to the rally, de Blasio defended his policies on policing, dismissing the notion presented in the ad that crime would return to the city if he is elected.
De Blasio said New York has changed profoundly, and he vowed to keep progressing by bringing community and police back together.
“Let’s talk about the details of how we are going to stay safe. Let’s not get into these ridiculous stereotypes,” de Blasio said.
He said he would keep the current level of 34,000 police—including 1,000 focused specifically on anti-terrorism. He said he would use the latest technology and training, and end unconstitutional stops.
De Blasio highlighted the gang intervention tactics as a way of bringing police and community back together.