Transcript: Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner O’Neill, Borough President Adams Hold Media Availability Regarding New Security Measures for Upcoming J’Ouvert Celebration

August 21, 2017

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. We’re here to talk about the J’Ouvert celebration. And I want to start by saying that this city is blessed to have a large and strong community of people whose roots are in the Caribbean – hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who contribute greatly to this city. And on Labor Day weekend we have the parade, obviously, one of the biggest events in New York City, each year and the J’Ouvert celebration preceding it.

It’s a very important moment for the Caribbean community and we respect that but we are absolutely committed to ensuring that this be an event where everyone is kept safe.

Last year, as everyone knows, we attempted a series of major changes and a tremendous amount more police presence and additional resources, and yet we did not get the result we sought. Lives were lost and that’s unacceptable to all of us.

So, we’re going to have a very different plan for the J’Ouvert celebration this year. There’s going to be even more police presence . There’s going to be a series of changes. In fact, you’re going to see the same kind of measures that we take on New Year’s Eve to create a much more orderly and controlled situation.

Now, you’re going to hear from a variety of people after me including leaders of the community who led the planning process and played a key role in determining which measures made sense that respected a tradition that goes back generations and recognized the fact that people would be gathering either way but ackbolwedged that we had to increasingly add security measures and change the basic dynamics of the event to make it safer for everyone.

So, that’s what we’re going to talk about today. The folks who you’ll hear from, as I said, I want to thank them all because this was a planning process that was community-based, that took a lot of rethinking, a lot of new thinking. And it was a strong collaborative effort over months and months to figure out the right balance. So, you’ll hear from a number of them in a moment.

I also want to thank some other folks who are with us who have played a crucial role in this process and will play a crucial role on the night and the morning of J’Ouvert.

I first want to thank Eric Cumberbatch, the Executive Director of the Office to Prevent Gun Violence in the Mayor’s Office who has done outstanding work working with the Cure Violence movement which will play a very, very important role in the efforts around J’Ouvert.

From the NYPD, I want to acknowledge the leadership roles in this planning process played out by Chief of Patrol Terry Monahan and the Brooklyn South Commanding Officer Chief Steven Powers. Both of them put a huge amount of time and energy into creating this new plan. I want to thank them for that.

I want to thank the Chair of Community Board 9, Musa Moore, for his good efforts and his support. And of course, I want to thank our hosts here today, the Brooklyn Public Library, for all they do for Brooklyn, and for having us here in their wonderful facility

So, here are the basic changes. I think you know about them already but just to summarize – we’ll be starting the parade, the J’ouvert parade at a later start time, 6:00 am, when it will already begin to be light out.

The parade route will be closed to the public the night before. You will see an increased police presence. There will be hundreds more NYPD officers than last year. And last year, again, was an increased presence compared to the past. There will be more light towers along the route – a 30 percent increase from last year.

We believe these efforts will make a big difference and we also believe that the unity that has been exhibited by all of the stakeholders in seeking this plan and spreading the word to the community that this plan is what everyone believes will work best, that that is going to play a crucial role.

And I mentioned the Cure Violence movement, sometimes called Violence Interrupters, also known as the Crisis Management System – these are community leaders who have done outstanding work, individuals who work block-by-block in communities engaging in particular young people, helping to educate them, and move them away from any path that might lead them to violence or danger.

One of the reasons you’ve seen a substantial decrease in shootings particular in this city has been because of the Cure Violence movement. I want to thank them and comment them for the work they do.

They’re going to play a crucial role around the events of J’Ouvert. And look, the NYPD has approached this process through the prism of neighborhood policing which we see month after month continues to make the city safer – high level of engagement with communities, a lot of communication, a lot of one-on-one work between police officers and members of communities. That is what has also led us to this plan – a lot of engagement between the NYPD and members of the community to determine what will make the most sense.

The vast, vast majority of people who come to J’Ouvert come to celebrate peacefully, to honor their traditions and their culture. And that is what we should focus on but we have know in the past, there have been some bad apples and some people have caused real pain and real damage.

Our message today is that this will not be tolerated. No effort to incite violence will be tolerated. Illegal activity will not be tolerated. The NYPD will be out in force with a zero tolerance attitude towards anything that might endanger other people.

And we believe that it’s important to respect all of the communities that make up this great city. We’re obviously in a time in our nation where there’s a huge debate going on and we’ve said very clearly in this city, we respect people of all backgrounds. We respect all faiths. We respect all cultures.

And at the same time we have a sacred responsibility to keep everyone safe. We believe this plan developed with community leaders and community members strikes the right balance. So, just a few words in Spanish before I turn to the Borough President –

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

With that I want to turn to Borough President Eric Adams. I want to thank him. I think everybody here knows that before he chose to be a public servant by running for office, he spent well over 20 years as a member of the NYPD rising to the rank of captain, if I remember correctly, and brings a unique perspective on both safety and on developing the right relationship between police and community. He has been in the forefront of this effort to create the right balance and create an approach that was community based that will keep everyone safe.

And I want to thank him for his leadership. Borough President Adams –

[...]

Thank you very much. Well done. Thank  you. And now I want to turn to our Police Commissioner. I want to say, Commissioner O’Neill, again, thank you to you and your entire team for what’s been an outstanding process working closely with the community over the last year.

And I think it shows in the final product that that community input made all the difference. Commissioner O’Neill –

Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill: Thanks, Mr. Mayor. So, every year thousands of people look forward to this celebration of Caribbean culture and life – J’Ouvert. But there’s also many that fear because of the history of the violence that’s associated with. And at the NYPD we know what the problem is. Historically, it hasn’t been the people that come to legitimately celebrate their heritage, their culture. It’s a real small percentage of the population, you know, out-and-out criminals who senselessly carry out violence against others just for the sake of doing so.

So, the day after last year’s J’Ouvert we immediately stopped working every stakeholder and I think that’s the point a lot – everybody needs to take from this. This isn’t the NYPD or the Mayor’s Office doing this by ourselves. This is – we worked with everybody to come up with this plan.

We worked with Eric’s office. We worked with Jumaane, with Laurie Cumbo, with J’Ouvert International, with the communities. So, this is a plan that we all came up with and I think this is the best way to move forward.

So, we should have a successful, enjoyable, and safe event for everyone this year. The time change for start should help us. In fact all of our combined efforts are geared towards deterring acts of violence. In a minute, Chief of Patrol Terry Monahan will detail many of the specifics as far as the NYPD is concerned.

And I really can’t overstate how important Cure Violence is to what we’re doing into the weeks leading up to J’OUvert and to the night of, the morning of.

I can tell you you’ll see even more police presence. We are putting more people on the detail this year. And there’s a lot that you won’t see also. Terry’s going to go into the specifics. I want to thank all the residents, the community leaders, the organizers at J’ouvert City International, and the elected officials who we’ve been working so closely with. 

Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan, NYPD: Alright. Good morning, everyone.

Commissioner O’Neill: I’m not done yet, hold on a second there.

[Laughter]

Mayor: So energetic, Terry. 

[Laughter]

Commissioner O’Neill: You are ambitious, aren’t you, Terry?

[Laughter]

Commissioner O’Neill: There are people are believe and know that things can be done differently here, things can be done more safely while still maintaining all that is great about the celebration. You’ll recall that for last year’s J’Ouvert, the NYPD instituted some major changes, including making a huge investment in our resources. We almost doubled our detail last year. We said then that this will be the standard, going forward, and it is, but that’s because we know that working together we can make sure this is a safe event for everyone who genuinely wants to enjoy the culture and the diversity that make New York City so great. 

So, Terry – now, you go.

[Laughter]

Chief Monahan: I can’t stress enough how much of a collaborative effort this is. We met numerous times over at the Borough President’s office, all the local councilman, community members, J’Ouvert committee, and we came up with a plan together. So, this wasn’t a Police Department plan, this was a real joint effort. So, what we’re going to be doing on that day is very similar to what we do at Times Square. The entire route of the parade – Empire Avenue, from Flatbush down to Nostrand –

Unknown: [Inaudible]

Chief Monahan: Alright, you got me now?

Unknown: Much better.

Chief Monahan: Alright – much more – again, joint effort – a real collaborative effort with everyone here. So, what we’re going to be doing is shutting down, similar to Times Square, Empire from Flatbush down to Nostrand, Nostrand from Empire to Midwood. This is going to be a frozen zone. There will be 12 different entry points. They’re located on the map up on the screen, and over here people will be able to come through these entry points – you’ll go past the magnetometer. You’re not going to be able to carry any large bags in, similar to Times Square. No alcohol will be allowed to be brought it. Obviously, you’re going to have magnetometers searching for weapons. That’s going to start at 11 o’clock. At 11 o’clock that evening, we are going to freeze that area. Between 11 and 2 am, we’re going to look to sweep the entire route. People that are on the route will be able to stay there, but there will be checkpoints on the streets itself. So, by 2 o’clock, hopefully everyone that’s been on that route that lives there would have been through a checkpoint and we can ensure that there are no weapons on there. 

The groups that are going to be participating on the parade will line up on Flatbush Avenue. They’ll be coming in off of Grand Army Plaza. They’ll be in that area. They’ll be identified by [inaudible] and they will go through a checkpoint too as they go into Flatbush. We will make sure that the parade is held off until 6 o’clock. At 6 o’clock in the morning is when the first group will start marching down the blocks. 

We will be doing quality of life enforcement throughout the day. Again, we give discretion to our officers. There can be summonses, there can be arrests, or it can be correcting the condition. That will be done throughout the parade route and around the parade route. At each one of our 12 entry points – worked very closely with Eric Cumberbatch and his Cure Violence people. We’re going to have Cure Violence people working hand in hand with our cops at these points, making sure if there’s any disputes around an entry point, that we have people there that can intercede right away. Again, increase in police personnel in and around, on the route, and around the route. As we know, J’Ouvert isn’t just on Empire and Nostrand – it’s all around the area. So, you’re going to have a very, very large police presence in the area. Increased lighting throughout on the route and around the route, a lot more cameras that are going to be up, so if anything does happen we will be able to catch it. With all of these changes I think we should make a real difference this year. And, again, I can’t stress enough that with the numerous meetings we’ve had, this was a real collaborative effort between the community and the police. So, hopefully, this is going to be a very safe event. 

[…]

Mayor: Alright, we’re going to take questions about the J’Ouvert plan from them media, and then we’re going to go to other topics. Yes? 

Question: Can we get an update on – two kids were shot last year. One case is moving its way through courts and the second case seems to be stalled. I spoke with the mother of the young man who was killed and she would like some answers about where the case regressed and –

Commissioner O’Neill: Miles, Chief Boyce will talk about that. 

Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, NYPD: Good morning, everybody. Good morning, Miles. So, in regards to the two shootings last year – one at about 3:50 in the morning – happened on Flatbush Avenue – 469 Flatbush Avenue. We have two people shot – [inaudible] 17-year-old – he’s shot one time in the chest. He expires from that injury. And we have a Margaret Peters, a 72-year-old lady who was shot, grazed in the arm. That case in an active investigation. There are two sets of ballistics that we recovered from the scene – a [inaudible] that was involved in violence elsewhere. We were finally able to recover that [inaudible] so that’s a big part of our investigation. There is also a .25 caliber weapon also recovered – that comes back to another shooting in New Haven Connecticut. We’re working with the New Haven police with that as well. So that’s an active investigation. We are speaking to [inaudible] mother about that. Sometimes when there’s a lot of people, you would think you would get more witnesses. But, because of the crowd size that point, we didn’t get a lot of witnesses. So, we’re acting on what we recovered at the scene. The other shooting, as you recall – earlier stated – was [inaudible]. She was shot one time in the head and she expires from that injury. We were able to make an arrest very quickly. We arrested Reginald [inaudible] – a 20-year-old male with five prior arrests. We got a statement from him as well. He admits to having the gun and said he was so intoxicated he couldn’t control himself. He doesn’t remember anything. So, those are the two cases from last year – one closed, as you stated – and one’s an active investigation. 

Mayor: Okay. Another question – Marcia? 

Question: [Inaudible] 

Commissioner O’Neill: This is – thanks, Marcia – this is something that we deal with every year. It’s not just on the parade route, it’s in the precincts, it’s in the 7-1, it’s in the 6-7. We have very large continents assigned to each and every one of those areas. So, the 6-7 has – Bob Boyce has a great history with this event. [Inaudible] he’ll have additional personnel to deal with anything that happens out, off the route. 

Question: [Inaudible]

Commissioner O’Neill: And, again, this is just – and this is the biggest point I want people to take away from this – this isn’t just about the NYPD deciding what we’re going to have to do about J’Ouvert, this is the community coming together and collaborating. So, we’re working with the violence interruptors, we’re working with community members to make sure we can educate people leading up to that morning. There is going to be quality of life enforcement, but, again, we have to – our officers – we’ve been pushing this since we started neighborhood police and we’re giving our officers discretion. There are various ways to deal with quality of life offenses throughout the night. 

Question: Could you talk a little bit about the effect the neighborhood policing program [inaudible] can you describe how the NCO officers in particular help them?

Commissioner O’Neill: They’re part of the education program, David. They are the liaison between the sector cops and the response cops to people that I've and work in the community. And we’ve been talking about this for quite some time. I mean, this is – the event this morning – a couple of weeks before J’Ouvert, but this is something we’ve been putting out in the community for quite a long time now. 

Question: Any ideas that came up from the NCO police officers in particular that informed this plan? 

Commissioner O’Neill: Steve, [inaudible] better able to answer that, but I know that we’ve been working real hard on coming up with solutions – and, again, just not within the NYPD – Jumaane’s people, Eric’s people, people from the Mayor’s Office – this is a good collaboration on how to move forward here and how to keep the event safe. 

Mayor: Let me – I’m sorry, let me follow up now. Chief did you want to add to that?

Chief Monahan: I just want to say a lot of the NCO’s have been involved with the licensed establishments to make sure that things like overcrowding, sales after 4 am, and everything like that. Also, with the store owners – we’re trying to get people to keep their lights on in the neighborhood – anything that could enhance our ability – visibility that night and just keep the neighborhood – we’re not there to stop partying, we’re there to stop unruly behavior.

Mayor: And, David, one more point to this, I think what you’re seeing is a philosophical shift that’s affecting things on many levels. So, the approach this year, as neighborhood policing has deepened as the operational core of what the NYPD does. You’ve seen a greater devotion to working with community members and community leaders. You’ve also seen a greater connection to the Cure Violence movement. And this is a very big deal – if I may editorialize – I think this is being under-reported because it’s a major, major evolution in this city, and Jumaane certainly can bear witness to this. For years, the Cure Violence movement was showing real success, real promise, not just here but around the country. But there was a disconnect with the NYPD, even sometimes a wariness. In the last couple of years – and I want to give Commissioner O’Neill real credit for not only having been the architect of neighborhood policing but also having seen what kind of alliance could be built. You see more and more work at the precinct level where precinct leadership and Cure Violence leadership are meeting regularly, sharing ideas, working in a positive collaboration. So, the presence of the Cure Violence movement this year is a change in the strategy – I think a very important change that’s going to have a big impact, but I think you can’t assume that would have happened if it weren’t for the neighborhood policing philosophy. 

Lisa?

Question: Mr. Mayor, you talked about a Times Square-style security plan. What’s going to be the policy on bags and will there be bag checks? And also, those metal detectors? 

Mayor: Chief Monahan will speak to that, but yeah bags are going to be checked, people are going to have to go through metal detectors. It’s very much – picture what happens on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. If you go into those areas, those closed off areas, you’re staying there, you’re not bringing big bags, you’re certainly not bringing anything that could be a danger to anyone else, you’re not bringing alcohol. It’s a very controlled environment. And look, New Year’s Eve – I want to remember as New Yorkers – it gets to Jumaane’s point earlier – that good news doesn’t always travel as far as bad news. New Year’s Eve is a tremendous success in this city each year. It’s an extraordinary effort put on by the NYPD. We have I think well over a million people in attendance and it’s done very peacefully each year. It’s a highly controlled situation, but everyone does get to celebrate. So, we’re borrowing from that model and bringing it here. 

Chief, do you want to speak to the specifics? 

Chief Monahan: Yeah, again, exactly like New Year’s Eve – no large bags, no backpacks, any alcohol will be confiscated, and, obviously, if you’re coming in with a gun or a firearm, you’re going to be arrested. So, it will be a strict [inaudible] thing as you go through. 

Unknown: Just really quick, I wanted to add two quick things, particularly for the credibility of our credible messages – I just want to make sure we clarify there’s a great partnership that happens and everybody has partnerships, they’re not working necessarily for the Police Department. We just want to make sure we’re focused. They have their job, and the police have their job. There is a partnership that is there, so I wanted to report it –

Mayor: No, there’s an independence, but, at the same time, there’s a lot more communication, and a lot more respect for the role the Cure Violence plays. 

Unknown: And the second part was that, I just wanted to make sure that we clarify, because there are still some people who are going to say, why didn’t you cancel the parade, why did you do this and that. You cannot cancel J’Ouvert. It is not something that can be canceled. You can apply marshal law, but then you’d have to do that in other places like Memorial Day weekend, New Year’s, Fourth of July. J’Ouvert is a celebration that happens in the Caribbean community on a long swath, much larger than that parade route. What we’re doing now is focusing on how to make that parade route safer, and we’ve talked about ways in how we can engage the community, as well as that police department, throughout that whole area that people are going to be out celebrating J’Ouvert. 

Question: I have a question for Chief Monahan – just to re-confirm, this is Sunday, September 3rd, is the parade, correct? What date is it?

Chief Monahan: Monday.

Mayor: Labor Day, itself. 

Question: Monday, the 4th. The parade route closes 11 pm the night before – the parade kicks off at 6 am on the 4th?

Chief Monahan: Correct. 

Mayor: Okay, behind Courtney.

Question: Commissioner, what kind of – you said quality of life enforcement outside of the parade routes, so what kind of quality of life enforcement are we talking about?

Commissioner O’Neill: We’re not necessarily talking about arresting people. There’s many different ways you can deal with quality of life. You can arrest people, you can give them a summons, or you can warn. So, that’s what we’re going to be doing throughout the night.

Mayor: Okay, way back, yeah?

Question: [Inaudible] you mentioned the investigation that’s still active the Tyreke Borel you said –

Chief Boyce: No, no the other case is still active; the Tyreke Borel is a play [inaudible] on that. The other case is still active in this investigation.

Question: The one that’s still active, you said two guns have been recovered.

Chief Boyce: No, no one gun has been recovered – two shell casings, two sets of shell casings, 1-3-80, 1-25. We recovered the 3-80 later that year, on New Year’s Eve I believe on a bus. So we’re looking at those folks as well who were on that party bus. That’s what I meant by 3-80, one recovered, and one still out there.

Question: You said one had a history with crime in New Haven.

Chief Boyce: New Haven County, yeah, right.

Question: And did the other one have any, is there –

Chief Boyce: Want to know the shooting of the other one, the one in New Haven is still out there. But there was a ballistics hit with that case in New Haven.

Question: With two sets of guns, was this a cross fight thing?

Chief Boyce: It’s difficult to say, because there is so many people in the brass, I call it brass – shell casings that were out there we scouted out by the crowed. So this is really hard to tell in that kind of environment.

Mayor: Marsha.

Question: You talked about the quality of life in terms of [inaudible] –

Commissioner O’Neill: Alcohol, marijuana.

Question: [Inaudible].

Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah we don’t want people drinking on the parade route. That’s why they are going to be screened before they get to the route and outside the area. And again this is a, this celebration has been going on for a long time. We are sensitive to the culture and this is why we work with everybody. This isn’t just an NYPD plan, and its police officers are going to have discretion to enforce the quality of life that night. And it’s important; it’s for everybody not only to be safe but to feel safe too.

Mayor: And Marsha, I want to also put this in the context which you know well of what’s happened with other parades and celebrations over time. You and I have been around here long enough to remember when unfortunately, whether it was St. Patrick’s Parade, Puerto Rican Day Parade, the Caribbean Parade itself on Labor Day. There was a substantial amount of disorder at each. NYPD over years fundamentally changed each of those situations. Nothing is perfect but they are very, very different than they were say 20 or 30 years ago. And I think everything goes through its process of evolution and change. This has to get better. We will not accept violence. But we also respect that people are going to celebrate just like they do on all those other days I mentioned. So we have to get it the right way. It’s a lot of police presence, it’s a whole new set of controls in a place like we have in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, adds absolutely quality of life policing as well. There will be enforcement across the board just like we do at these other events. Yes, Courtney.

Question: Mr. Mayor, let’s say it doesn’t go well, and there are violent –

Mayor: I am going already to tell you we are not dealing in hypotheticals, but you can go ahead with your question.

Question: If there are violent incidents again, would you consider canceling?

Mayor: We are not going to deal in hypotheticals, this is again – I believe this plan is a very, very strong plan. I think the NYPD has done a tremendous work, I think the community leaders have done tremendous work. And you’re going to see something you’ve never seen before. Literally in the whole history of J’ouvert in New York City which goes back generations. You’ve never seen this approach before. I think it’s going to be very different, and very effective. We’ll evaluate it afterwards. But to the point you’ve heard several people make. Think of any holiday, religious holiday, cultural holiday, the holiday is not going away. People are going to celebrate the holiday and that is true of all faiths and all backgrounds. And we should mutually respect all faiths and all backgrounds. Our job is to figure out how to keep people safe. And I am convinced this is the right plan.

Question: Mr. Mayor so moving this into the daylight. When the crimes that were committed in daylight, were the shootings committed in daylight or in –

Mayor: Before I turn to PD on that just to make the obvious statement. You know, in a daylight atmosphere it is much easier for the NYPD to do their work, and I think we would all agree as human beings. Daylight communicates something very different to people, that they cannot hide their actions. There is a different way people comport themselves in daylight hours. So we knew that psychologically and operationally it would be a far improved situation.

Chief Boyce: So, the two shootings which were, one is at 3:50 hours in the morning. That’s the one at 4-6-9 Flatbush Avenue where Tyreke Borel was killed. And the other shooting was at 04:15 in the morning, so just prior to daylight.

Chief Monahan: If I can just jump in. I was right at the start. A group came off, the first group that started on J’ouvert, that’s when the first shooting took place. As that first group finished, that’s when the second shooting took place. So by starting this at 6 o’clock, we’re hoping to prevent from happening on the route.

Mayor: Yeah?

Question: Do you guys expect massively long lines to get into the check points?

Chief Monahan: We have 12 separate checkpoints. We’re going to be allowing at four hours prior to the start of J’ouvert. I think we’ll be able to get them through fairly quickly. We do it in Times Square and there were more than a million people on the route. So I think, I think this should move very quickly.

Mayor: Yes?

Question: Given the success of New Years Eve of what you were saying and in that event. Why are we only seeing these you know security precautions you’re speaking as far as the entry way checkpoints and everything like that? Last year wasn’t the first time a violent incident happened.

Mayor: Look, I’ll start and turn it to the Commissioner. Because I think policing continues to evolve in New York City. You know, ever since the CompStat era began we’ve been changing approaches literally every year. And I mentioned those other parades. It was a process of years to bring them to a point of more order and less violence. I think each one in turn has been treated and I am not sure it occurred to people honestly years ago that we could do a Times Square style approach. But as conversations with the community evolved it made a lot of sense and it was time to use it here.

Commissioner O’Neill: It’s as simple as that, it’s an evaluation. I mean it’s a – everybody sitting up here with me that is wearing a uniform; they’ve been involved in J’ouvert for a long time. It’s an evolution. We tried something last year, and then we have to up that, to make sure we keep people safe. No shootings on [inaudible] are acceptable.

Mayor: Yes?

Question: Question, Chief Boyce, how many more killed last year, at the last year’s parade?

Chief Boyce: Sure, there were two incidents that involved two homicides. On one of the shootings, a 72-year-old lady was shot. She survived the wounds, it was graze wound. So, there’s two instances with two victims.

Mayor: Okay, yes?

Question: What kind of pressure were you under from some members of the community to shut down the parade? And could you address those concerns?

Mayor: I felt throughout the process that people were looking for a solution. I think we were all profoundly disappointed last year because again, we have put so many officers into the event, and it changed the approach. And it was very, very painful. And my heart goes out to the families who lost their loved ones. And you know the resolve was immediate amongst all of us. And at the point still Commissioner Bratton was here. We all immediately resolved to figure a new plan out with the community. So, we knew we wanted to do something very different. But again always in the context of understating this was a celebration that was generation old and was going to continue. So I did not feel pressure to ignore that reality, that there was going to be a celebration. And I think we all put pressure on ourselves to figure out a better strategy. Is there anything else on J’ouvert or any other police matter? Yes?

Question: On J’ouvert and then onto another police matter. Do you want to make a personal appeal to the family members? Or are you going to be reaching out to the families where there were two teenagers killed, you know, I wonder if you had a plan to do that?

Mayor: You know, we’ve tried to support the families in every way and we’ll continue to. And the appeal I am making now to people is to recognize you know, lets honor those who are lost by doing everything to keep this event safe, and to work with community leaders, to work with the Cure Violence movement, to work with police. By the way, this is what we keep coming back to in neighborhood policing. The best way to stop violence is for people who know something, to share that information with the police. So we talk about it, you see something say something in terms of terrorism. Let’s keep J’ouvert safe. If anybody has any indication that someone has a weapon or intends to do something violent, please let the Cure Violence members know, the elected officials know the police know, so we can keep everyone safe.

Question: On that other police matter, in 23rd precinct a woman somehow went over a roof and her family members are insisting that her boyfriend did it; do you have any information on it?

Chief Boyce: Yes, [inaudible] we have right now – the autopsy is being done as we speak right now. Right now we are looking at it as suicide. We have a third party witness, who observes the entire incident on top of the roof of that building. And basically he supports the narrative given by the boyfriend. So that’s where we are right now.  The case is not over by a long shot. But that where the case is right now, and we’ll go forward. And this boyfriend has no prior arrests and he has no DIR’s we this lady at all, non-period. No DIR’s at all, so it looks like it appears to be a suicide at this point. But again, the investigation is open. We’re going to keep going forward.

Mayor: Way back.

Question: For the Commissioner or any of the Chiefs, in the 1-0-8 Precinct there was an attempted rape, 24-year-old victim last Thursday. We received a video tape or a surveillance video from the NYPD.

Chief Boyce: Sure, that’s my case. We have an individual, a young lady who’s walking down the street, a male Hispanic approached her, began conversation and confronted her and basically demanded a sex act from her. We were able to grab video of this individual and put it out, so we’re looking for anybody who can help us. This happened last Thursday at about – just after midnight, 12:30 in the morning. So, it’s pretty good video. We’re hoping to get phone calls from it from our Crime Stoppers report. There’s nothing else in that area to suggest any kind of pattern in the 1-0-8 Precinct but we’re certainly concerned about it. And we’ll go forward. He’s described as a male Hispanic, dark hair, 23 to 28-years-old, thin build with a light goatee. That’s what we have now.

Mayor: Back, yes.

Question: Can you talk – can you talk about the stabbing in the 5th Precinct from Saturday night.

Chief Boyce: Yes, that was a – that’s a named perpetrator. That was between friends who were drinking. Again, that’s – we’re seeking to arrest the individual. And we’ll go forward from there.

Question: [Inaudible] stabbing of the man and the woman, they were drinking?

Chief Boyce: [Inaudible] people who were known to each other, and that’s pretty much what we have right now. It’s an identified perp. We’re looking to arrest that male today.

Question: Mr. Mayor one question for you and one question for a variety of NYPD officials who want to answer. [Inaudible] Councilmember Williams left but I wanted to get your response [inaudible] that he said that your administration has been worse than the Bloomberg administration on police accountability and transparency. And I wanted to see if you had a response to that.

Mayor: I respect the Councilmember but disagree with him fundamentally. We have profoundly changed the relationship between police and community, stop and frisk is down 93 percent, the entire police force has been retrained in de-escalation techniques, we’re starting implicit bias training. I mean these are all fundamental changes and the proof is in the pudding. Complaints against our officers are down to the lowest level in 15 years. And look, we’re – this is the administration that is bringing body cameras to all of our patrol officers over the next two years. I can’t think of anything that says transparency and accountability more than body cameras for every single patrol officer. We have one area where I wish the State law was different. I made it very clear, Commissioners made it very clear, we would like to see the 58 law amended so the disciplinary records can be made public. It’s just not legal to do so right now. So, that’s my respectful disagreement on the facts.

Commissioner O’Neill: I have – consider myself to have a very good relationship with Jumaane, any issues that come forth we discuss and look for solutions together. As a matter of fact we’re meeting this afternoon later on. So I disagree with Jumaane also. We have a great relationship from police officer all the way up to Police Commissioner. We’ve done so much work to improve the relationships over the last three years. I think – I just have to disagree with him.

Mayor: Please go ahead.

Question: On a totally different topic, in May you released a domestic violence taskforce report and I just wanted to see from Commissioner or other NYPD officials if you had an update on how that’s gone, and I don’t know if there’s any recent data on domestic violence reports that is available?

Commissioner O’Neill: Yes, I’m sure we’re probably going to be doing some press sometime soon on that, so I’m going to have to get back to you on that.

Mayor: Okay, Rich.

Question: Mr. Commissioner I wondered if you would give us your evaluation of the policing in the Charlottesville incident down there.

Commissioner O’Neill: I’ve had a little time to reflect on it. We – we have a lot of experience in New York City on dealing with large crowds and large events. And I think that’s come about because of so much that happens in New York City. And we do our best to make sure we screen people before they come in to demonstration areas. We do our best to separate groups with different opinions. So, I know what we do up here, again, somebody asked me this last week, I don’t really know the geography down there, I don’t know the number of personnel that they had down there. I know what we do here in New York City.

Question: Commissioner, your response to the demonstration on Saturday on the police officers and former NYPD officers on behalf of Colin Kaepernick.

Commissioner O’Neill: This is – this is again, this is in the spirit of transparency. We are all human beings and entitled to our own opinions. So, that’s – this is – if this is how they feel and they want to express themselves I have no issue with that whatsoever. As a matter of fact I encourage it.

Mayor: Yes, and just to clarify for everyone, off-duty people. You know, they’re citizens off-duty and have a right to express their opinions. And when people are on-duty their political opinions are put aside and they serve everyone without any bias or political judgement.

Question: Any update on the murder in Greenpoint Friday? Any suspects, additional arrests?

Chief Boyce: Sure, that would be my investigation. Right now, we had a homicide, stabbing homicide, George Carroll was stabbed one time in the chest causing his demise. This happened at about 9:30 at night on a Friday. Detectives have been working all weekend on this case and we came up with an identified perp. We are seeking him now. His name is Gary Correa. This is the individual. He is 19-years-old, looks a bit older than that, but he’s got 13 prior arrests. He is the perpetrator. He’s been identified by witnesses at the scene. He lives nearby in the Bushwick Houses, not that far away. Mr. Carroll was walking down the street, and just some eyes back and forth led to a dispute with this male who came up to him and stabbed him one time in the chest causing his demise.

Mayor: Okay, any other police related matters? Yes?

Question: An update on the sexual assault in Flushing with the Uber driver –

Chief Boyce: We have an arrest on that case. We do and he made admissions to the fact as well. So, he’s – I don’t think he has any prior arrests – this individual but he’s arrested and we did get a statement from him. 

Question: [Inaudible]

Chief Boyce: It was over the weekend. I think it was Sunday afternoon we made the arrest.

Mayor: Yes?

Question: Either – I think it was an attempted rape or rape of a young girl with Autism in Brooklyn –

Chief Boyce:  Sure. Well that case happened in a park. We identified the individual that she said did it. She’s 17-years-old, we’re still speaking to her. The person that she identified took her to the hospital afterwards is a 79-year-old male. We spoke to him. He gave a very literate narrative of the facts. So right now that case is still ongoing. We don’t know exactly what happened.

Question: That’s the guy that was in that video that was put out?

Chief Boyce: That’s correct. We spoke to him. He has no prior arrests. He seemed to be genuinely trying to help her. So right now we’re still in the midst of finding out exactly what happened.

Mayor: Okay, any other police related questions?

Okay, other topics? Way back?

Question: Can we ask you about the Marion Sims statue the Council Speaker is protesting [inaudible] what’s your feeling about handling that?

Mayor: So we’re – what I think is really important to do, and this is why I’ve ordered a 90 day review, is that  we’re going to look at all statues and monuments that in any way may suggest hate or division or racism, anti-Semitism, any kind of message that is against the values of New York City. So there’s going to be a review of statues, monuments, public places all over New York City over the next 90 days. People can come forward and point out things that they have concerns about, and the task force we’ll put together in the next few days will evaluate each and every one and will come back with both a sense of a universal standards that we can apply going forward but also specific changes that they suggest should be made, and then I’ll look at that and make decisions accordingly. So I’m not going to comment on each specific one, but to say – I’ll say one thing about that. That is obviously is one of the ones that will get very immediate attention because there’s been a tremendous concern raised about it.

Yes?

Question: Follow up to that Mr. Mayor, and forgive me if I missed this – I was on vacation – but is there any way we can get a list of monument and memorials that are under review?

Mayor: As they come under reviews, sure. There is not yet a standing list. We’re going to form a task force. They’ll have 90 days to do their work. We certainly will gather a list – that statue in East Harlem is one of the obvious ones that’s been talked about a lot. But there will be obviously many more, and then you know there will be an open process around it, and again I want to get both a standard that we can use and a set of recommendations on which ones to act on.

Question: And the other part of the question is who’s going to be on the task force?

Mayor: We’re going to be naming them soon.

Borough President Eric Adams: Can I just – I want to –

Mayor: Please.

Borough President Eric Adams: Two years ago we sent a letter to the Army dealing with the street namings on the Army base. They sent – returned a letter similar to a letter they returned to the congresswoman, and we believe that we must remain vigilant. We don’t want to change history. History should remain in the museums. They should not be used as tools to celebrate the behavior of those who were in contrary to the American values and the constitution. People should not be reminded of that painful past by walking down the street that celebrate those who were anti-American values, so I think that what the Mayor is doing – looking throughout the entire city – is a signal that’s going to be done throughout the entire country that we must look at the past in order to move forward. We must clean the past and deal with these issues.

Mayor: Yes?

Question: [Inaudible] on private property too?

Mayor: No, we’re looking at City property. So for example what the borough president just referred to is the Fort Hamilton military base. I couldn’t agree with him more. The confederate generals were traitors to the United States of America. Their names should not adorn an American military base, but we’re going to look at anything on City property. Private property is its own issue.

Question: Mayor you just talked about the 90 day review and everything. What’s your opinion on the Marion Sims statue?

Mayor: Again, I’m not going to get in the business on speaking to each specific situation because I want there to be an objective process, and I especially want – as best we can come up with – an actual universal rule that will apply consistently. So there’s no question that one has to be looked at, I can tell you that much. And the history is very troubling, but I don’t want to prejudge. We have to come up with a process here.

Erin?

Question: Mayor, Governor Cuomo has now formally endorsed congestion pricing. He said it’s an idea whose time has come, and that he’s going to put his full political weight behind it. Your cited reason for dismissing it has been that it doesn’t have the political support, and it doesn’t really have a chance. Does the governor’s stance change or evaluate that calculus and all, and also can we just speak to your opinion of it on the merits putting aside the political chances?

Mayor: A couple of things, no, it doesn’t fundamentally change my assumptions on its viability because so long as this current Republican State Senate leadership is in place I think it’s inconceivable particularly given the focus that the current Republican leadership in the senate has on Long Island. I think it’s just inconceivable this action would take place. Unless what the governor is talking about is something very different than the previous congestion pricing plans, so I want to also caution Erin – we haven’t seen his plan to the best of my knowledge. He’s made a broad statement, but we haven’t seen an actual plan. It might be very different than what you’re assuming right now. So we have to see the plan and evaluate it on its merits. I did not agree with Michael Bloomberg’s plan. I thought it was unfair to the outer boroughs, and did not address equity issues. I said that the MoveNY plan was an improvement, but I still think there’s a huge number of outstanding issues particularly on equity. So I still don’t see a path forward on this, but if the governor comes up with a different kind of plan we will assess it at the time.

Yes, Courtney?

Question: Mr. Mayor, the debate stage is set. It will be, right now, you versus Albanese. There are some people who say – you know, Bob Gangi is very upset. He wants to participate. Michael Tolkin is upset. He wants to participate. Do you think those two candidates should also be invited?

Mayor: I think the debate sponsors and the law that we have regarding the Campaign Finance Board are what matter here. There are very clear rules about how you qualify, and they’re not that onerous in the scheme of things. We want candidates who are going to be part of debates to have proven they’re serious candidates, so those rules are in place. The sponsors will figure out how to interpret those rules. Whoever line-up is I will be happy to meet that line-up.

Yes?

Question: Mr. Mayor, following up on that, you have the debate coming up. You were out of town on vacation last week, what have you been doing to prepare? There was some criticism as well that your campaign asked for the matching funds basically arguing that you do have competition coming up, yet you went on vacation. Can you just respond to that criticism?

Mayor: Yes, people go on vacation. It’s – I mean, I’m not surprised by your question, but I will just state the obvious. We’re going into the thick of the campaign now – the primary and then the general campaign. I wanted to get a last chance to take a break before going nonstop into that. I have campaigned many, many times. I campaign nonstop when I do, and I’m taking this very seriously. I have been preparing. We’ve done a number of prep sessions already, same we did debate prep in 2013.

Mayor: Yeah, people go on vacation. It’s – I mean, I’m not surprised at your question but I will just state the obvious – we’re going into the thick of a campaign now, primary and then general campaign. I wanted to get a last chance to take a break before going nonstop into that. I have campaign many, many times. I campaign nonstop when I do and I’m taking this very seriously.

I have been preparing. We’ve done a number of prep sessions already the same way we did debate prep in 2013. I never take anything lightly. I’ve been an underdog in essentially every race I’ve been in. This is a different dynamic but it doesn’t change my preparation.

Question: Mr. Mayor, I just wanted to ask you about the increased use of the title, “special assistant” in your administration. Just trying to get a better understanding for why so many more people would have that title now than under Bloomberg. And also your spokesman said it provides flexibility in demanding different types of work from people. Just wondering if you can give us an example where that might be necessary.

Mayor: Yeah it’s when you have someone in those roles, they’re expected to work nonstop and a lot of those folks work six and seven days a week, and very long hours. And we get a lot done through folks who have those titles.

We’re trying to do a lot. I can’t tell you all the intricacies of the Bloomberg administration but I can tell you in this administration we’ve put together very ambitious goals, obviously, things like pre-K followed now by 3-K, what we’ve tried to achieve in terms of reducing crime and changing the relationship between police and community, the affordable housing plan – the biggest in the city’s history. These all take an immense amount of work and they all have to be built on all the time and we think that people in that role are well suited to it. So, it’s about getting the work done.

Question: Are there specific rules that it allows you to go around –

Mayor: It’s different than civil service, obviously, and I have a lot of respect for our civil servants but folks in special assistant roles are on the clock a whole lot of the time.

Question: Mr. Mayor, just to follow up on that. Your Republican opponent, Nicole Malliotakis, has been very critical of the fact that you’ve added so many special assistants saying the money could be better spent on things like mass transit or other needs of the city –

Mayor: Look, I think Assembly Member Malliotakis should look at what is being achieved every day. What’s our job as the City of New York? To keep people safe. To make sure the schools serve our children. To clean the streets. To run the parks. I mean, look at the job description of a mayor and of a city government, and what’s clear is we’re producing a lot for the people of the city and we intend to produce a lot more. We need the personnel that allows us to get that done. It’s as simple as that.

Question: [Inaudible] One of the things you said in response to Yoav’s question was that you say that you have a very ambitious agenda. Are you saying that your agenda is more ambitious than Bloomberg’s because you have [inaudible] double the number of special assistants –

Mayor: I have – I have some areas where I really agreed with Mayor Bloomberg, some other areas where I disagreed. But I can say on a number of items, we’re trying to things on a bigger scale. Obviously, we added a whole new grade to our school system with pre-K and we intend to add another.

You know, have a much bigger affordable housing program than the previous administration had. We’re doing things very differently in terms of the relationship between police and community, and that takes a lot of effort including the great work with the Cure Violence movement. That was not something that was focused on in the Bloomberg years. It’s something we’re putting a lot of time, energy, and resources into.

Yeah, we’re running this government very differently and we are doing a number of things that weren’t touched at all in those years and we’ve got to have the personnel to make it work.

Question: Mayor, what is your position on the bill that would ban smoking in condos and co-ops?

Mayor: I haven’t seen that bill and, forgive my ignorance, is that City or State?

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: Okay, I haven’t seen that legislation. I’ll certainly look forward to looking at it.

Question: Mayor, have you bought your glasses? Are you going to watch the eclipse later?

Mayor: I did not get to Warby Parker in time. Dante attempted to and did not get there in time either. Hopefully I can borrow some for a minute from someone at the appointed hour. Obviously, it’s going to be a pretty amazing event. I do want to remind people – and I’m going to be everybody’s mom and dad here for a moment that – do not look into the sun without eclipse glasses. And even with eclipse glasses, I assume you shouldn’t look at the sun too long.

But also for drivers, from what I understand, it’s going to get dark pretty quickly, maybe not totally dark but you’re going to noticeably see a change in visibility right around the time of the eclipse.

So, please, at that time – I think it’s around 2:40 pm, if I remember correctly, be careful and be extra aware if you’re driving a vehicle.

Question: Mr. Mayor [inaudible] congestion pricing. I spoke with [inaudible] he basically says that his new plan would [inaudible] more bus service and other service [inaudible] in the outer-boroughs. And he also says that by reducing the tolls on [inaudible] increase the tolls on the East River bridges that [inaudible]. Does that do enough to [inaudible] your concerns about outer-boroughs? And then just as an aside [inaudible] votes in the Senate [inaudible] pass it –

Mayor: On the first question, no, it doesn’t. I still think there are big equity issues that need to be considered. And again, I don’t think this is a realistic conversation given everything I’ve ever seen in the Senate. I don’t share his assessment. His job, of course, is to be optimistic but everything I’ve ever seen of this Senate says this isn’t a possibility.

Again, maybe the Governor is going to put forward a very different type of plan. But I can’t pre-judge that. So, no, it does not answer all my concerns and no, I do not think it is politically viable.

Question: So, this would be for the Commissioner and then anybody in the PD. So, the partial eclipse as it will be here, is that a king-sized distraction? It’s an opportunity for thieves and pickpockets and stuff like that in places where –

Mayor: Your lurid imagination, Rich. Watch out for Rich around 2:40 pm.

Commissioner O’Neill: I got one for him. Rich, I don’t know if you know, but every night the sun goes down.

[Laughter]

So, I think we got it.

Mayor: Nicely played.

Question: But in this case, everybody is going to be looking up –

Commissioner O’Neill: You have to pay attention to where you are and who you’re with.

Mayor: You’ve been drinking too much coffee, Rich.

[Laughter]

Question: Mr. Mayor, just one more on the congestion pricing. Is this something you are invested in and you want to try to crack the plan that you’re going to be working with the Governor’s Officer? Or you’re just hands off – “If he can figure it out, God bless him, and I’ll look at the plan.” Or is this something you want to say, “Yeah, maybe it is time for us to crack the plan together.”

Mayor: I haven’t seen a plan yet that satisfies my concerns and I don’t think it’s politically viable. So, I got a lot of other things to do in the meantime. If something starts to change, we’ll look at it at the time.

Question: [Inaudible] Do you think that if let’s say you’re re-elected, do you want by the end of your second term for drivers to be paying more to drive in the most congested areas of the city?

Mayor: Again, guys, I think there’s a psychological term called projection. I’ve never been in favor of this strategy. I’ve never seen an example of it that I thought was fair. I’m always going to keep an open mind. But no, there are some people I believe including your publication, David, that believe in it. I just happen to be someone who does not believe in it based on what I’ve seen so far.

Okay, thanks everyone.

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