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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner O'Neill Hold Media Availability on Crime Statistics

June 4, 2019

Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill: Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for being here. In a moment you're going to hear from Mayor de Blasio and then Chief of Crime Control Strategies Lori Pollock, she’ll go over the main numbers. 

First, I’d like to commend again all the honorees in our NYPD Medal Day this morning at Police Headquarters. We had 47 distinguished-service medals, all of which were awarded posthumously to NYPD members who died of 9/11-related illnesses in the past couple of years. In addition, we had 15 Medal for Valor winners, 23 Police Combat Cross honorees, and three recipients of our Medal of Honor, the department's highest award. Those three cops were Lieutenant Manny Kwo, Sergeant Arvid Flores, and Police Officer Elwin Martinez. They were recognized for their courage above and beyond the call of duty and ending the horrific episode that took the life of Sergeant Paul Tuozzolo in 2016. I mention all of this now because it bears repeating that the work that the men and women of the NYPD engage in on a daily basis is not easy. It takes determination, skill, and fortitude to professionally handle all the different things today's cops are tasked with. They don't do it for thanks or praise, of course. They do it because that's what cops do. And so, I'd like to – I’d like everyone to just think about these brave police officers today, especially all those who gave their lives in service to our great city. 

Here in Brooklyn North, much of our crime fighting efforts are directed from this historic building, which, believe it or not, was built in 1895. I want to thank Chief Maddrey – I think you're in the back – Jeff, thanks for your hospitality. He's the C-O of Patrol Borough Brooklyn North. Today, our cop’s hard work here is clearly paying off as we continue to rebound from the crime spikes we saw our earlier this year. There is still much more work to be done here and in every borough, but we're focused very precisely on the hotspots and the criminal element that's responsible for much of the violence and disorder we're still experiencing.

It's very fluid work that requires our constant attention, and we continually adapt as circumstances dictate. I remind everyone that the historic crime lows New York City sees today are absolutely not promised for tomorrow. These are not permanent achievements, they are continuing challenges that require the full diligence of every member of the NYPD with the full and willing partnership of everyone who lives and works in New York City. And together, we won't rest until every block in every neighborhood enjoys the same level of safety and wellbeing as the rest of the City. 

Mr. Mayor? 

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you very much, Commissioner. Commissioner, it was an honor to join with you at Medal Day and honor those we've lost and honor those heroes who have done so much for our city. And today we have an opportunity to talk about what the men and women of the NYPD have achieved in the month of May, and it's outstanding.

Commissioner, congratulations to you and your team. May was a really, really impressive month in terms of crime fighting. And I want people to recognize that when I talk about the NYPD setting new records all the time, that that means human lives saved, that means families that are not torn apart, that means people are living a better quality of life. So, we should never get too used to the notion that these records being set as just another set of words or statistics. It's something very powerful, very human, and it's also incredible validation of the fact that the NYPD is getting better all the time. So, when you look at the month of May, this was the safest May in modern history in this city. This, in terms of statistics we've been keeping now for decades – this was the safest May we have ever had. 

Overall crime down almost 7 percent compared to may a year ago. And in the area that we care about so deeply, stopping people from losing their life in our city – in the area of homicide, homicides down 57 percent, May 2019 compared to May 2018 – 57 percent drop in homicides – the all-time lowest number of homicides for any month of May. And we're on an extraordinary pace now, five months in the year. We've never seen anything like this before in terms of NYPD driving down homicides to such a low level. 

Shootings – also down almost 21 percent, May 2019 compared to May 2018. This is extraordinary. So, I'm always going to keep telling you we’re the safest big city in America, but we actually get safer all the time because of the amazing efforts of the NYPD. Now, we're here also to talk about a set of challenges we face, but I want to always accent the positive – that when we face challenges, it's with greater cooperation than ever before between our communities and the NYPD. And that is to the credit of Commissioner O’Neill and his whole team, and the neighborhood policing vision. It’s creating a unity of purpose that I don't think we've ever seen on this level before in the history of New York City. And that is made vivid today by the community leaders who are joining us shoulder-to-shoulder with the NYPD to fight all crime and particularly to fight hate crimes. And I want to thank them. I want to thank from the community that we have the pleasure of being in here – of course, Devorah Halberstam of the Jewish Children's Museum, thank you; Rabbi Chanina Sperlin of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council; Rabbi Eli Cohen of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Center; Rabbi David Niederman of the United Jewish Organization of Williamsburg – all of whom are outstanding community leaders. Also want to mention Sam Stern, another great community leader. 

And I want to thank leaders who reach in their influence and impact all across this city and all across this country – Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, of the New York Board of Rabbis; Rabbi Michael Miller, of the Jewish Community Relations Council; Rabbi David Zwiebel, of Agudath Israel of America; and Alexander Rosenberg of the Anti-Defamation League. To all of you – and so many dear friends here – thank you for all you do for this city and thank you for all you do to work closely with the NYPD. This is how we defeat hate crimes and this is how we defeat hatred. And Devorah, particularly to you, the efforts with the Children's Museum to go to the root cause, teaching all New Yorkers, and starting with our children, to love each other, to understand each other. And thank you and God bless you for that. 

So to everyone, I want to, as we talk about the challenge of hate crimes, I also want to focus on the success that Patrol Borough Brooklyn North has had. And to Chief Maddrey, and all of your team, I want to offer my appreciation and congratulations. We all know – we remember earlier in the year, there was some real challenges in Brooklyn North in terms of fighting crime. But some real important progress has been made – major crime in Brooklyn North down 8 percent this May compared to a year ago. So, I want to commend everyone for that focus. But again, one of the areas we are concerned about deeply is the increase in hate crimes. And we know that many people who commit hate crimes hope that they will set off a chain reaction, that their hatred will inspire more hatred. Our job is to achieve the opposite, to turn that hatred into something very different, to turn it around and help foster understanding, to bring people together, to create common cause between all communities, to push back and fight back the forces of hate. In Brooklyn North, this is the place I would say if you wanted to see what community people have done over decades to overcome division to form unity among different communities, this is the place you would come. The story of Crown Heights we know is a painful one years ago, but it has been replaced by one that's very hopeful, of community leaders of all backgrounds finding each other, reaching each other, finding common cause. So, here in Brooklyn North, which includes Crown Heights, includes Williamsburg, many Jewish communities that have really borne the brunt of these recent hate crimes. I want to commend Chief Maddrey, and, again, all of his colleagues, for the fact they held a town hall meeting specifically to address hate crimes at P.S. 376 and to bring in the community and ensure that the voices of the community were heard and to make sure there was real partnership in this effort. And community members gave very helpful advice about where police officers needed to be more present, where we needed to make redeployments to maximize the battle against hatred.

That said, we've talked about it here, but it is a citywide reality, and it's particularly stark against the contrast of overall crime steadily going down we've seen this increase in hate crimes. Hate crimes up 64 percent citywide versus the same point in 2018. That's an unacceptable reality and we're going to fight it with everything we've got. And I have to be clear, many, many communities have borne the brunt of hate crimes and we should all be united in challenging all the forces of hatred. It is also fair to say in this recent period, the Jewish community has borne the brunt especially – 60 percent of these hate crimes were anti-Semitic crimes. So we are particularly attuned to addressing that horrible trend and making sure that with the force of the NYPD and all of the tools we have at our disposal in this city, that we will turn that tide. We saw that just recently at the Jewish Children's Museum last Thursday, and Devorah and I spoke immediately after the incident where we saw an anti-Semitic message found right there at the gateway to a place that's devoted to love and understanding. We've seen other types of hate – a man entered a mosque in Richmond Hill threatening Muslims in April. We saw just last Friday, two rainbow flags set on fire outside of gay bar in Harlem. We don't take any of this lightly and we will not tolerate it. And I believe that we in leadership can provide positive messages and could provide guidance and try and uplift people, but I also believe in consequences. I believe that one of the best ways to educate people as to show them that there will be very serious consequences if they act in a way that harms others. And so, we are going after the perpetrators of these crimes very aggressively. In fact, year-to-date, 2019 hate crime arrests are up 19 percent. The NYPD is moving aggressively to address the problem. And we want anyone who contemplates such an action to understand that we will find them, we will arrest them. And then I want to dwell on what happens next – and people should understand this, and I want to give this example that if someone, a New Yorker, were to throw a punch or cause injury to someone in many cases, just an every-day situation in which a hate crime was not involved, it's still unacceptable – that can mean up to a year in jail. If it is also a hate crime, that could mean up to four years in jail. So, I want all the community leaders, but I want to ask the news media as well to spread the word that when someone is motivated by hate and it's proven, it adds jail time, it adds consequence to what they have done.

We're going to act also in many other ways to prevent hate crimes, and I want to commend the City Council for their leadership in creating the Office to Prevent Hate Crimes. And that was originally slated to open up in November, I’m announcing that we will open that office this summer. We're speeding up that opening, we’re working with the Council to it get up and running immediately on efforts to prevent hate crimes, to support the victims, to constantly update the community on what we're seeing so it can be addressed. I also want to urge people to report hate crimes. We know – and this is a phenomenon we've dealt with, with several major areas of crime – that there was a history of crimes not being reported. And I want to say to anyone, if you're a victim of one of these crimes, we need to know. I don't want anyone to ever feel embarrassed or ashamed. The police need to know so they can stop it from happening to anybody else. Whether you're in the Jewish community or LGBT community or an immigrant communities, any community, we need you to report any time you feel you've been the victim of a hate crime. 

So, the bottom line here is very clear. Anyone who is a perpetrator of a hate crime, we will find you, we will arrest you, we will prosecute you, you will suffer the consequences. And for all those people of goodwill, who are the vast majority of the City, please keep upholding the values of New York City, a place where everyone is respected, a place where everyone is supported. We're all in this together. Every-day New Yorkers can be voices of understanding and respect and love, and that is one of the greatest ways to fight hate. 

With that, just a few words in Spanish – 

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

With that, I want to turn to a leader who is doing so much to fight hate crimes and also helping to lead this effort to historically reduce crime in the City. Our Chief of Crime Control Strategies, Lori Pollock.

Chief of Crime Control Strategies Lori Pollock, NYPD: Good afternoon. Thank you, Mr. Mayor, Police Commissioner, and the people of the borough of Brooklyn for having us. May 2019 is the eighth month in a row that we have seen a reduction in overall crime. This month, overall crime is down almost 7 percent, hitting below 8,000 index crimes for the first May in the CompStat era. This May is also the first month since August 2017 that each of our seven major crime categories, including murders and shooting incidents have seen a reduction. Four of these categories have seen triple-digit reductions – robbery, felony assault, burglary and grand larceny. They have all seen triple-digit reductions and this May includes the single-lowest number of shootings recorded during any week in the CompStat era. Murder is down 57 percent, and in a city of eight-and-a-half-million people, we recorded 15 murders this May – that is at its 20 fewer murders than last year in May 

Shootings – we set a new record-low of 61 shooting incidences this May, with 16 fewer shootings in last year. And Patrol Borough Brooklyn North, where we are now, down 38 percent for May in shootings – or, 15 versus 24. Fifteen shootings is the lowest number for any May in Brooklyn North in the CompStat era, and those shootings in Brooklyn were concentrated in the 7-5, 7-7, and 7-9 Precincts. 

Rape, for the third month in a row, is down 157 versus 181. We have seen a decrease in same-year reporting and out-of-year reporting remains consistent with the last year, and I still think that it's too soon to tell what the decreases mean. We believe the crime of rape is still under-reported and we urge victims of sexual assaults of please come forward no matter when the assault occurred. 

Robbery is down over 10 percent from May 2018, and this May is the eighth straight month that robbery has shown a reduction. Burglary is down eight straight months and finished May below 900 burglaries for an all-time low in May. And felony assaults are down 6 percent. Grand larcenies or down 3.5 percent. And grand larceny auto is also down 7.5 percent for a new record-low in May. 

So, these are, these are the lowest crime numbers in history, but there are still crime victims and we will continue to strive to make every New Yorker safe. So, I thank you for listening. 

Commissioner O’Neill: Thanks, Lori. Any questions about the crime statistics? 

Question: So, when it comes to the hate crimes, what specifically are you seeing the most? Is it graffiti? Is it assaults? 

Commissioner O’Neill: Dermot, do want to give a breakdown? 

Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea, NYPD: Sure. When you look at the overall numbers, as the Mayor said, it's up 64 percent. It's a raw number of 184 versus 112, for an increase of 72. By and large what we see across the city is as you describe, either criminal mischief, property damage, or graffiti. That makes up the vast majority, and we treat them as seriously as we would an assault, quite frankly, because of the message of hate that it sends to all of the residents of the city so we will be clear: we will continue to aggressively investigate these crimes until – whether it’s sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religion, no one should be at fear worshipping, walking around New York City, and that’s our message.

Yeah.

Question: In a New York Times article last week, Chief Monahan said gang-related shootings weren’t really over drugs but based on general opposition and online beef. I was wondering how the NYPD is working to head off that violence before it comes off social media and goes to the streets.

Chief of Department Terence Monahan, NYPD: Again, it’s understanding the beef, understanding where these beefs are going to take place, and as I said in that article, it’s about one set of kids not liking another set, and being able to deploy out there and working with Dermot Shea and the investigators, identifying who are the individuals who are willing to take out a gun, carry it on the street, and use it, and build cases against them so that we can get them put away.

Question: Commissioner, can I just get your general reaction when you see the overall crime numbers continue to go down, because I think people are out there and have heard it for so long that maybe it’s not a surprise to them, they just kind of expect this, but how long are we going to continue to see, in a city this big, crime going down and your reaction – and then also I wanted to ask you, why are – do you think that anti-Semitic attacks in New York City, is there a reason why?

Mayor: So, wait a minute. Commissioner, Dave would like you to forecast the future and bring out your crystal ball and tell him exactly what’s going to happen with crime going forward.

Commissioner O’Neill: That’s what I get paid to do, isn’t it?

[Laughter]

So I think that what you’ve seen over the last five or six years, especially since the advent of neighborhood policing, and putting all the detectives under Bob Boyce, and now Dermot Shea, I think you’ve seen a real focus on the small percentage of the population committing the violence. And as far of the sector cops and the NCO’s within the precincts, I think they are – certainly our work isn’t done, but those relationships that they’ve managed to build over the last couple of years really help us fight crime and to do it instantly. So, like I said in my remarks, you know, we can’t take this as a given. We all have to continue to work. Not just us, it’s got to be the whole criminal justice system, it’s got to be, quite frankly, all 8.6 million New Yorkers working together to do this. Because we are at a good point now, and I know we can do more. I’ve been conducting meetings in – I think I’m doing my ninth meeting in the 4-1 on Thursday night, in nine precincts where the violent crime rate is double the citywide average, so there is a lot more to do, and every neighborhood should be as safe as the next one, so—

Mayor: Yeah, and Dave just to throw in – look, it’s been six years in a row, it’s absolutely extraordinary, so I think there’s more we can do. I really – I’m very hopeful that when you see a team like the NYPD continuing to set records, they’re going to go a lot farther and I don’t think New Yorkers should ever get numb to the fact that this takes extraordinary effort between precision policing, neighborhood policing, all these strategies, the 2,000 more officers that we put on patrol in the last few years – it’s all adding up, but I think what you’re seeing now is that the progress is helping to open the door to even more progress.

Question: Is there a reason for why hate crimes, especially the anti-Semitic attacks – I think it’s surprising to people, especially in New York City—

Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, it is but I think – Dermot, we have had an increase in arrests this year so maybe Dermot you can talk about the people that we’ve arrested so far and some of the motivations that you’ve uncovered.

Chief Shea: So when you look at them, and this is calendar year 2019, essentially through the first five months, we’re up 19 percent in the arrests that we’ve made thus far with many other active investigations continuing. It’s a raw number increase of 12 – 75 versus 63. When you look at who we are arresting, it runs the gamut. I’ve seen individuals arrested that clearly have mental illness history. I’ve seen young children, as young as pre-16 years of age arrested. I’ve seen individuals that have never crossed our paths before, meaning this is their first arrest, and then I’ve seen career criminals. So it truly runs the gamut in terms of what we’ve seen the apprehended individuals thus far this year, trying to pinpoint one focal point in terms of the “why” has proven difficult.

Commissioner O’Neill: And despite the motivation, this is something that we will not tolerate in New York City and we do have the premier hate crimes unit in the United States. In the front row?

Question: So among these people that you’re arresting for hate crimes, do you see any particular ideologies as a motivation for any of these people?

Chief Shea: Yeah, I—

Question: Particularly interested in the anti-Semitic hate crimes in that question.

Chief Shea: We have not. As I said we see a wide range of not everyone talks, clearly, and we’ll go through the appropriate process in terms of Miranda, et cetera, so we’re very limited in terms of motivation at times. But it runs the gamut. We do get statements from some of the individuals, in terms of clear motivations coming out of that, in aggregate. I would be lying if I said I had that information.

Commissioner O’Neill: Courtney.

Question: For both of you, Commissioner and the Mayor, how much do you think the political climate is contributing to the uptick in hate crimes, and then just for the Mayor, this message here, safest big city, how much do you think this can contribute or boost or help along your 2020 campaign?

Mayor: I’m not going to speculate on politics in the middle of this discussion. We’re the safest big city in America. It’s a fact, it’s been a fact for years, and we’re getting safer. That’s what it’s about, it’s about what the people of this city deserve, the safest possible city, and the NYPD is doing an outstanding job.

On the other question, look, I want to differentiate this city from the rest of the United States of America. I think what we’re seeing, unquestionably, is an unleashing of the forces of hate all over this country. And I want to remind people that particularly these white supremacist forces, they affront the Jewish community, they affront the Muslim community, they affront the gay community, the immigrant community, I mean that’s one of the things that’s happening here. We didn’t see those kinds of organizations out in the open as much as we’re seeing now. By the way, they’ve often been a tremendous threat to law enforcement. If you look around the country for years and years, a lot of these right-wing militias have been willing to use force against law enforcement officers in many parts of this country, and that’s thoroughly unacceptable.

So that is happening nationally, I don’t have a question in my mind. I think here, as you heard from the Chief, it’s a different reality in some ways, but that national backdrop sure doesn’t help, and I think it’s put everyone on edge and it’s created a lot of division.

Commissioner O’Neill: In the back row.

Question: Yeah in terms of the uptick in hate crimes, or anti-Semitic hate crimes, is this a Crown Heights area problem or is this a Williamsburg problem? How does that break down?

Commissioner O’Neill: Dermot, you’ve got the geography for that?

Chief Shea: Yeah, you’re right on in many ways, we definitely see some precincts spiking and taking a disproportionate share of those crimes. 7-1 Precinct, 9-4 Precinct in Brooklyn. We also see it on the Upper East Side in the 19th Precinct. So, there are hotspots, if you will, where we see a disproportionate share but that’s not to say that it’s confined solely to that. We see small instances spread throughout the city.

Question: [Inaudible] either what neighborhood it’s—

Chief Shea: It constantly is – the answer is yes, there is upticks and it’s – constantly fluctuates. Over time, you tend to see in certain neighborhoods more often but in any given year you will see ebbs and flows. We do outreach in areas, we also do investigations not waiting for the next uptick in a particular area, and we treat all instances of hate crime, whether it’s anti-Semitic or against any other protected individual, very, very seriously.

Question: On that hate crimes [inaudible] are you seeing a lot of repeat offenders, like is this like one person who’s responsible for multiple instances [inaudible]?

Chief Shea: Yeah, I’ve said publically before, we certainly have incidents where one individual has been arrested multiple times. I’ve spoken publically about one particular individual on the Upper West Side that clearly has mental illness issues. He has been arrested multiple times. He, in fact, will not be prosecuted because he is deemed to be not responsible for his actions. So we do have individuals like that but we also, what makes it extremely difficult is that when you look at the broad spectrum of who we’ve arrested and you start looking at large amounts of data, it is spread out, where it’s not something that we see particularly with other traditional crimes, robberies, burglaries, even the gun violence that you mentioned earlier, where certain people show up over and over and again – makes it very easy to target them, to build patterns and to build strong cases. This is a little different in that we see people that we – have never been on our radar before in law enforcement and suddenly they’re committing an act.

Commissioner O’Neill: And this motivation really doesn’t diminish the crime. It doesn’t diminish the fear, that’s for sure. So that why we need everybody in New York City to pay attention, and if you have video, if you’re a witness, come forward and help us make sure that there are severe consequences for these types of crimes. Yes sir?

Question: Hi, I just wanted to ask strategically, when it’s not an actual, physical attack, but they’re [inaudible] drawing a swastika, might it be wiser for [inaudible] or even the official not to [inaudible] because it’s really what the kids want is to be seen or [inaudible] maybe it would go down if it wasn’t reported as much? Is that possible?

Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, people have to understand the consequences. You know, even if you’re a kid, that there’s different consequences that you do face depending on your age but I don’t think it’s – it’s certainly not something that we can overlook. Yeah?

Question: My question’s for the Mayor. Mr. Mayor, there was another crackdown on illegal e-bikes today in the 19th Precinct. I’ve asked you about this before and you rightly point out the bikes are in fact illegal and the NYPD is merely enforcing the law. So I’d like to ask it in kind of a different way. You’re obviously known as a progressive and empathetic leader, so I’m wondering if you can imagine for a minute your life – what your life would be like if you were a struggling immigrant delivery worker, struggling in a very difficult city, a strange city, to make a living under high pressure circumstances like they are?

Mayor: I’ll answer it but I want to make sure we finish any other questions after that on the Crime Stats and before going to specific police matters. Look, the – I think that for so many immigrants in this city, they’re struggling to make ends meet. It’s tough, they’re here trying to take care of their families, and you know, anyone of us who remembers our immigrant roots can relate to that. You know, my grandparents came here, did not speak English, had to, you know, come to an entirely different society and try and make it, so I feel for anyone and I respect everyone who is trying to do that for their family. At the same time, I believe that the first thing we have to consider in public policy is safety, and right now we have a really challenging situation where e-bikes are illegal, as you noted, by State law, and we have a real safety problem. My hope is that the Legislature will act while there is still time, to come up with a regulatory approach that makes sense, or to differ to localities and let localities figure out that kind of regulatory approach. But right now we have a situation that’s not legally clear enough and we have a safety problem that must be addressed at the same time.

Question: There’s a follow-up on the progressive policies, I mean you could, as the Mayor, come up with some sort of program to convert these e-bikes into legal pedal-assist bikes, the city has obviously legalized those forms. Why not do something progressive like that?

Mayor: Look, I think the first goal is to get the Legislature to act so that we can have a legal framework. I think if that doesn’t happen we’re going to look at all other options, but I want to put the horse before the cart here, Gersh. I think, and I know your constituency, your readers would be most interested in this, that, you know, we have a chance, over the next two, three weeks, to actually get this matter addressed in Albany. That’s the best solution. But if that doesn’t happen we’re going to look at a host of options.

Commissioner O’Neill: Any more crime statistic questions?

Yeah?

Question: I’m just curious, have you guys ever considered rape and sexual assault a type of hate crime against certain percentages of the population. I mean, as a woman, why wouldn’t sexual assault also be considered a hate crime, because, you know, there is hatred behind those types of crimes?

Commissioner O’Neill: I don’t know if we’ve had those conversations with the state legislators but that might be something that we could look at. There was story last week – I’ll bring it up before somebody asks the questions about how we categorize rape in New York City. So Dermot, I don’t know if you want to talk about that, where we are? Jack, I’m sorry.

Chief of Strategic Initiatives John Donohue, NYPD:  Good afternoon, Chief Jack Donohue, Chief of Strategic Initiatives. First of all, I’d like to echo what Chief Pollock had said earlier about encouraging all survivors of sexual assaults to make complaints, we encourage that, we urge that to happen. With respect to classifications of crimes, the questions that came up were differences in the types of crime or label to the state penal law, versus the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports. And the Department takes reports of all sexual assaults and investigates them all underneath the able supervision of Deputy Chief Judy Harrison of the Special Victims Division. Our reports are published on our website for the sexual crimes that occur in New York City, underneath the state penal law, and we also have reported to the UCR, the FBI UCR program, since the definition of rape had changed in 2013 consistently, every year since that point in time.

Commissioner O’Neill: Yep, one second – hold on, somebody in the first row here.

Question: Yeah, as far as the motivations go. How – first part, how long have these motivations been tracked by ethnicity? And secondly, is it possible there is an uptick in reporting of hate crimes that maybe is reflected by media accounts, and media you know, being in the media more recently?

Commissioner O’Neill: I think these categories have been since, at least since the Hate Crimes Task Force came to pass which was, I think, Dermot in the 1990s, correct me if I’m wrong.

Chief Shea: Yeah, I don’t have the exact date. It’s certainly a number of years that I’ve seen these reports in terms of internal NYPD tracking. And the answer to your question is a tough one. The second one where either under reporting or over reporting is certainly a reality, not just in New York City, but New York State and across the country, how to pin point that is at times difficult.

Commissioner O’Neill: Yep, in the back.

Question: I want to ask the Mayor [inaudible] –

[Laugher]

Commissioner O’Neill: You can ask him, I’ll tell him.

[Laughter]

Question: I’m curious –

Commissioner O’Neill: This one’s for you.

Question: Last month and I think today you brought the [inaudible] of white nationalism, white supremacy nationwide. I am wondering if you can talk a little bit more about what you see as [inaudible] between that and the uptick in hate crimes here, when Shea talked about how we don’t really – there is no clear pattern about who is committing these crimes.

Mayor: I said earlier, that I think there is a difference between what we’re seeing here in New York City and what we’re seeing around the nation. But I also want to be very clear, I mean it’s – you know, over the last three years something very dangerous is happening in this country with the rise of white supremacist voices and white supremacist organizations. And what I am trying to help get across is that that threatens so many different people in this country. And certainly in this city, and it’s a reality that unfortunately underlies a lot of what I think is happening as it – again, that movement works against the Jewish community, the Muslim community, the immigrant community, the LGBT community. I mean it’s so negative and broad based that I think it is part of why we’re seeing an uptick in hate crimes all over the country. But I think here as you’re hearing, we’re seeing something particular and different. I don’t think the fact that our reality here is our own reality takes away from the fact that something clearly important and negative is happening in our country.

Commissioner O’Neill: Any more questions about crime stats? Yep.

Question: No, it’s about crime.

Commissioner O’Neill: Like crime like –

Mayor: [Inaudible] stats first, [inaudible] stats. Let’s finish this up.

Commissioner O’Neill: Second row.

Question: With Pride Month beginning, is the NYPD looking to bolster more –

Mayor: [Inaudible] stats. Let’s just see if there’s [inaudible].

Question: No, its [inaudible] in hate crime, because I mean its Pride Month and there is probably, you know, there might be some concern from the LGBT community that they could be targeted from people who just don’t believe in Pride Month or you know their community. I mean has the NYPD gotten any type of indication that there is concern that parties or organizations could be targeted during Pride Month?

Commissioner O’Neill: No, there is no specific or credible threats, but we do work with the LGBTQI community very closely. I have a liaison in my office that does a lot of outreach as does Community Affairs. So we’re in constant communication and June is going to be a very busy month, culminating in the Pride Parade, the last Sunday of the month. So, we’re looking forward to it, and we’ve been working on this planning it for a long time. So it should be a great month.

Question: One last about Brooklyn North specifically. I know you said that May to May we see shootings and murders down in Brooklyn North. Is that also true year to date? Could you be a little clear on that please?

Chief Pollock: No, year to date we are still up. I can give you the exact numbers if you want to stand by or at the end. But, we are trending down right now, but like Chief Monahan said this is something that we keep an eye on, certainly not resting on laurels that they are at record low this month.

Commissioner O’Neill: As of past Sunday, Brooklyn North is up four homicides and it looks like they’re up 12 shootings. Yep.

Question: On the hate crime, the Office of Hate Crime Prevention. City Council had or some of the City Council members had a presser where they were saying that it wasn’t being funded as they had asked for. And I was wondering since it’s also being moved up to June as opposed to November, your office told me that they were going to give $336,000 in funding, when Council members asked for $475,000 in the first year. Are you guys considering moving up the amount that you’re going to give or are you matching the –

Mayor: Yeah, yeah, we’re going to consider what we need to do to make that work given the new timeline.

Commissioner O’Neill: Alright, Melissa.

Question: Two quick ones. Can you just with a couple of brief examples of how this past [inaudible] work how it helped people and in practice? And also, do you have a sense – I know that arrests [inaudible] –

Mayor: When you say the Task Force, I want to make sure we’re saying the same –

Question: I’m sorry, your new agency.

Mayor: The office?

Question: Yes. So you can start on that if you want.

Mayor: Yeah, I mean the idea of the office is to work on preventive strategies and to figure out a combination of you know, getting information out so people understand what’s happening but also what they can do to stop it from happening, and more support for victims. We want to make sure – I mean it’s a horrible experience for someone to go through it. We want to make sure that there is on-going support of them, and to encourage the maximum flow of information both ways. Because, as I said earlier, I have every reason to believe as with some other crime categories that there is times when people experience a hate crime and don’t report it. And we need to encourage people to report it to understand, even if they feel it’s something you know, they’re moving past. It’s really important for the NYPD to hear the details so they can act. So, the office will focus on all of that.

Question: I know that arrests for hate crimes are up. Do you have – and I’m sure a lot of these cases are still pending or winding their way through the system, but do you have a sense of the conviction rate and whether it’s still difficult in cases like I know it used to be to get convictions on a hate crime and not pleaded down to some lower offense?

Commissioner O’Neill: I don’t have the convictions, Dermot? [Inaudible]. We might have to get back to you on that, Melissa, okay. Any other crime questions, Crime Stats, yes?

Question: So on – can, I don’t know if Deputy Commissioner Miller can speak to this, but any – is there any evidence that in New York City that we have the sort of groups that are operating around the country are operating in this city, the far-right hate crime groups, do we have any evidence of that?

Commissioner O’Neill: Thank you for volunteering Commissioner Miller, I’m sure he’d be happy to talk about it.

[Laughter]

Looking for something to say – thank you.

Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller, NYPD: Yes. So, as we’ve seen an uptick in the amount and the pitch and tone of internet traffic that discuses hate groups, hate crimes, we’ve seen an increase in that activity with people related to New York City. Within the Intelligence Bureau we have several open cases regarding groups like that, and over a period of time we’ve had very few, but some marked incidents where we’ve made arrests with the Detective Bureau and identified groups and organizations behind that.

Question: But, but would it be the case that these are not the people who are committing the crimes that you’re talking about today, is that true?

Deputy Commissioner Miller: These groups are not behind the drawing of swastikas, and property damage things. These are more geared towards crimes against persons. These are groups that fight with each other, sometimes – and we’ve seen other incidents around the corner, I mean around the country that relate to groups that we’ve seen operating in New York City as well as other places.

Question: Let me ask the question in a slightly different way. Of the people you have arrested for hate crimes, do any of them belong to the groups that Commissioner Miller is talking about?

Deputy Commissioner Miller: There have been a couple of assault cases going back a couple of years where we have identified people being with specific groups that engaged in acts of violence.

Commissioner O’Neill: Alright, let’s move on to off-topic crime or –

Mayor: Crime, police matters.

Commissioner O’Neill: Yes.

Question: Police matters, I wanted to ask about the eight people arrested this morning for using fake or forged placards to get out of parking tickets, I guess this is for the Mayor and the Police Commissioner. Is this sort of part of your crackdown on placards, and can you give an update on the misuse of legal placards?

Mayor: Yeah, I will only say I want to commend DOI for what they did in effectuating those arrests. You know, fake placards are not going to be tolerated, and yes it is part of a bigger crackdown. We’re going to be increasingly using every tool we have to create real consequences for anyone who misuses a placard or creates a fake placard. This is you know, I think you might have been at the announcement. This is going to be something that’s build up over the next couple of years, and the biggest impact is going to be when we bring technology to bare, and I think we’ll really be able to deeply, deeply reduce the numbers then. But I commend the DOI for what they did.

Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, these were old indictments that were processed in the 5th Precinct by DOI, and these folks were involved in a long term investigation. Yep, yes.

Question: I’m just wondering if you Commissioner or the Mayor have seen the Central Park Five movie yet, and to what extent that history informs police what it means today?

Commissioner O’Neill: I have not seen it yet. I saw the original documentary, but I haven’t seen this one on Netflix yet. Any – I’ve spoken about his clearly in the past. Anything as we move along we constantly learn, we constantly look to make sure what we’re doing is right.

Mayor: Yeah, and I have not seen the documentary but I want to say it was so important to finally heal some of the wounds by providing a settlement to the Central Park Five. We did that in the beginning of this administration. They should never have been put through what they were put through. I think it’s important to recognize it’s a very, very different city today and I commend the Commissioner and the leadership of the NYPD, because the training that our officers receive today, I think is very, very powerful in terms of ensuring that we will not see incidents like that in the future.

Commissioner O’Neill: Yep.

Question: I want to ask about a recent spate of crimes committed by parolees in light of cashless bail plans. Specifically over the weekend there were two rapes committed by parolees, one of a 78-year-old woman in Queens, another of a 20-year-old woman in the Bronx, and then a third and fourth parolee were involved in a shooting at cops in Queens. One was captured and one was on the lam. Does this raise any concerns about the cashless bail plans?

Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, yeah, it does. But this – and this is something that concerns me constantly. There is a very small percentage of the population involved in violence and crime. And we have to make sure going forward, and I said in my opening statement, we can’t take anything for granted. So we have to work very carefully with our partners in the DA’s office with the judicial system, with the legislators to make sure that anything that we do doesn’t have an impact on public safety. So we’ll continue to work with the State’s Department of Correction, and we’ll also continue to work with the City’s Department of Probation. Yep.

Question: Commissioner, we’ve received some video of officers in uniform fighting in Harlem, any reaction to that? And where is the investigation on that?

Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah, obviously it shouldn’t happen, but we hire human beings, and sometimes there are internal conflicts. It is under investigation that’s about all I can tell you right now, we’re taking a look at it. Yep, in the glasses.

Question: I have a question for Chief Shea. I am just curious back to [inaudible], hate crimes statistics. Are there any changes that you’d like to see on like prosecutorial side and the DA’s offices that would help you bring these numbers down?

Chief Shea: I think we have to look at everything, and beyond, beyond the criminal justice system. When you look at the sentencing, the – I think the Mayor initially stated the difference in sentencing. The mere fact of hate crime statutes exist, points to the seriousness of it in the eyes of the whole judicial system. When you look at – I mentioned earlier, we’re arresting a variety of individuals for this. I think those cases are treated seriously, but you have to look at the merits of who’s arrested, how old they are, what the cases is, what does the victim want in a particular case, I mean, do I want things done differently? I want no crime quite frankly, I want people to be able to walk around New York City and be free of fear. Whether we’re talking about sexual assault or whether you’re talking about hate crimes. I think that we’ve done a lot of good in the last 20 or so years. We’ve done a lot of good in the last four to six years, and we’ve moved in the right direction. But there’s still some to go.

Commissioner O’Neill: In the back row.

Question: What are your thoughts on the gravity knives ban being lifted last week, and also back in 2018 the Legal Aid Society had a study that said of their case load it’s the people of color who are being targeted by this ban? What are your thoughts?

Commissioner O’Neill: So, they are dangerous weapons, I’m still concerned. We’ve had 1,600 slashings and stabbings year to date in New York City, and they are still unlawful to carry in the subway system. So it is something that we’re going to have to monitor. We have to make sure that whatever laws are out there, that we enforce them fairly, but this does give me concern.

Question: Do you know of those 1,600 – how many [inaudible] knives?

Commissioner O’Neill: What’s that?

Question: Of those slashing’s, the 1,600 –

Commissioner O’Neill: I don’t have that number for you. John.

Question: Commissioner, today on 11th Avenue and [inaudible] and [inaudible]. Apparently police were giving some tickets for [inaudible] illegal turns on to 11th Avenue when it’s only one lane now. How do you [inaudible] tickets for a street that was changed in one day or literally overnight?

Commissioner O’Neill: Chief Chan will give you an initial answer, and I’ll follow up, I’ll put an ending on it.

Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan, NYPD: The Department of Transportation is – between 42nd Street and 57th Street is now going to be a one-way street going south bound on 11th Avenue. And what happened is that we’re looking into that particular matter. Normally when we change signs or the Department of Transportation changes the signs, and they are in the process of starting on Monday. When they complete the sign change, we will have a five-day grace period before they will issue summonses. So we’ll look into that particular matter.

Commissioner O’Neill: John, what the Chief of Transportation said.

[Laughter]

Commissioner O’Neill: In the backrow?

Question: I have a question for the Mayor about [inaudible] standard in bail, how would you define “dangerous” and how many complaints have you’ve had against the [inaudible]?

Mayor: I’m sorry what’s the last part?

Question: How many complaints have you had against – about the prohibition?

Mayor: I don’t understand that part of the question. How many complaints have I had about – against the prohibition? What are you saying?

Question: The danger standard in jail, how would you – in bail, sorry – how would you define dangerous?

Mayor: Yeah.

Question: How many complaints have you had about prohibition from, I guess your own?

Mayor: Yeah, I don't, I literally cannot understand the second part of your question. So you can have a time to reformulate. Let's do the first part. I think the Legislature has more work to do and I was up in Albany yesterday and I talked to legislators about that and I spoke about it publicly. They have more work to do. I think that their effort to reform the bail system was sincere, and some real good can come of that, but there is a necessary additional piece to make sure it's balanced in favor of public safety. And that is to add some clarity that gives judges the ability to weigh that additional factor and to be able to act if someone really does pose a very specific threat.

And I think there has to be a very carefully worded addition to the law and has to be a narrow. But, you know, the original – the original hope I had and I talked about in February, I testified in Albany was to see bail reform and the additional measures taken to address danger and that that would be a very important combination. We still need that second piece.

Question: Yeah. Okay. The progressive Democrats and the criminal justice advocates have decried dangerousness standards, why are you taking this position?

Mayor: Because I think there is a real problem with judges not being able, when they see a situation where is the distinct threat to a community, to hold back a suspect from being released. If you're not going to have bail the same way you did – and again, in many ways that's a good thing – we especially need to give judges a little more discretion. A flight risk, which is the central tool that they have right now to address if there's a flight risk, we know that is insufficient, I've heard this from numerous judges that someone may not pose a flight risk but still could be a danger to their community and so with bail being used less in this new reality, I think that's an important balancing point. I'm first concerned about public safety.

Commissioner O’Neill: I'll get the next –

Question: On Saturday there was a shooting nearby a Prospect Heights school, an elementary school, kids through 16 – that was the third year shooting near that school in recent months. Is there any update on sort of the nature, didn't happen at the school, but they were in the surrounding areas, are there any update on the nature to those and sort of what's going on in the area [inaudible]?

Chief Shea: What are the streets?

Question: It’s on Franklin Avenue between Park Place and Sterling.

Commissioner O’Neill: Okay.

Chief Shea: I’d have to get back to you on the specifics.

Commissioner O’Neill: Yeah?

Question: I would like to ask the Mayor and the Commissioner whether you would like to see New York pass the marijuana legalization before the New York State –

Mayor: Sure. I've spoken to this many times. In fact, we put out a report in December articulating what the right kind of marijuana legalization would be and I spoke about it as recently as yesterday in Albany, both publicly and to the legislative leaders. I still think there's time to do it. I'd like to see them do it, but it has to be done in a way that respects the real health and safety issues. I think that can be done, judge from what we've seen in other jurisdictions around the country. There has to be substantial local control and discretion. There has to be the ability to localities to capture a substantial amount of the revenue so that we can act on our interests and needs in terms of legalization and most especially we cannot allow the creation of a new corporate sector around marijuana. This is the thing that worries me the most that we'll sort of have the same old, same old laws that we’ve seen previously in the ways, for example, the tobacco industry or the pharmaceutical industry – opioids – were able to do very manipulative things for profit.

We have to stop that from happening and we have to foster community-based businesses and businesses that really provide economic equity, a given all the folks who have suffered from laws in the past. I still think that can be done and a lot of that can be done by offering that local control and discretion. But you know, there's – time’s tight but it can be done and that's what I'm working for.

Commissioner O’Neill: So I have a number of concerns. Probably number one is there's a no test for driving under the influence of marijuana, no instant test. So we have to figure out a solution to that before we move forward. I have quality of life concerns that we do have a number of 9-1-1 calls about people smoking marijuana. How do we give people relief for that? I'm concerned about people under the age of 21. I'm concerned about burning in public. In no state where it's legal is it legal to burn it in public. Also concerned about grow houses or people grow in their own marijuana –

Mayor:  And just a quick rejoinder, I agree with those concerns and I think in any local discretion we would be very tough on preventing those grow houses. I think 21 is the right age. And what was the other one you said –

Commissioner O’Neill: Make you look at my list again? DWI, driving under the influence –

Mayor: No, no toward the end. Timeout – oh yeah, burning in public.

Commissioner O’Neill: Quality of life.

Mayor: Yeah, to the Commissioner's point, every state that has legalized still outlaws the burning in public, and, certainly I believe we should do the same.

Question: Time for two more [inaudible]?

Commissioner: Gersh?

Question: A question for the Commissioner for vehicular crime. A couple of blocks away last month the man was run over and killed by United States Postal Service vehicle. Those kinds of trucks do not have license plates, as you know, unlike UPS trucks or FedEx trucks, and therefore the NYPD knows how many summonses and red light camera tickets have been issued against those kinds of vehicles. But we don't know that about that the United States Postal Service, so I'm wondering how the NYPD tracks how dangerous the United States Postal Service drivers are?

Commissioner O’Neill: Tom is that a category we're looking at. I'm sure there's some sort of identifier on Postal Service trucks?

Chief Chan: As Chief of Transportation for the last five years my recollection involving postal vehicles, very few and this is probably one of the few cases that I've heard involving them. So again, we can take a look, but normally we don't have a large number of postal vehicles being involved in CIS cases.

Question: That’s true. My point was just about violations. They can be tracked by your VIN numbers, but they are not, as you know, officers write tickets based on license plates and obviously camera enforcement license plate as well. We do not know how dangerous these drivers are.

Commissioner O’Neill: I don't know how many summonses we've written to postal trucks year to date. So something we have to take a look at. Yep?

Question: Back on the hate crimes, Chief Shea mentioned some mentally ill committing them and you said there's one repeat offender who actually can't be held accountable. Will the new office do anything to help/target mentally ill hate crime perpetrators or is Thrive – the $250 million a year program – doing anything to look at that issue?

Mayor: I think – look from my perspective, we want to address the needs of anyone with a mental health challenge whether it's something that leads to a hate crime or any other kind of dysfunctional activity. The office is focused on preventing, in all senses, hate crimes. And I think, for example, if someone were to come forward and say there was someone in their life, there was someone in their family who was expressing, you know, hate-filled views and a desire to act on them, whether it was because of a mental illness or anything else, that's the kind of information the office could receive and ensure that there's follow ups through Thrive, through NYPD, et cetera.

So it's a brand new thing. We're going to figure out how to make it work. But I want to emphasize the goal is to create much more of a flow of information. And look, it's a variation on when you see something, say something, and this has been a very effective reality in this city. New Yorkers respond. I've been always moved and impressed by when the NYPD asked New Yorkers for assistance in solving a crime, the response is outstanding. We’re obviously going to ask people for assistance in stopping hate crimes. And if they hear anyone suggesting hateful actions, we need to know about it.

Unknown: [Inaudible].

Mayor: Go ahead, Melissa.

Mayor: What can you tell us how about the racial breakdown of the accused perpetrators in the anti-Semitic hate crimes [inaudible]. I know you said it’s coming from different places, so it – what can you tell us about –

Chief Shea: It’s – I don't have the statistics in front of me. I could tell you off the top of my head that it runs the gamut. We see different ethnicities committing hate crimes in New York City.

Mayor: Okay.

Chief Shea: So there's a couple of slides here, if I could just again asking for the public's help, I think the question came in before about several parolees committing crimes. This was put out to the media, but we are again asking for the public's help. This individual is wanted regarding a rape that occurred this weekend, a horrific incident on a young woman in the Bronx. We are asking anyone, there should be no place in New York City where this person can put their head down or hide without somebody calling. So please call Crime Stoppers. Every bit of information is important and imperative, thank you.

Unknown: Okay, thanks everyone, we will do a quick reset and start again.

Mayor: Start all over again.

[…]

Mayor: Okay, anyone who's not sticking around time to move on. Hold on one folks. Let's get this room cleared from anyone who is not sticking around. Okay. I think we are good. Yes.

Question: So Mayor, on the announcement last week on this memorial for Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, what histories or historians did your administration consult in making that choice? And did you direct this She Built Committee – the commission, to consider history or to look at history when making its own choices?

Mayor: I did not direct them specifically. The whole notion of She Built is to redress an extraordinary injustice in this city where the majority of people are not represented in the public monuments. And I think, you know, for the biggest city in the country to be systematically trying to represent all those people is a very positive thing, it has gotten a very positive response. In terms of how specific names were chosen, I was not part of that process. I'm not familiar but I certainly can get folks from my team to tell you about it.

Question: Just to quickly follow up on that, the First Lady was quoted in the New York Times alleging that whitewashing had led to Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson not being given their proper place, I guess, in history. Can you tell us who did this whitewashing, and how it was done, and what their –

Mayor: Well, I'm not an expert on all the history, but I think we can safely say that women leaders, people of color leaders, and trans leaders have often been left out in the history and underestimated. And we're trying very systematically to represent everyone. So, I can't speak to the specifics and you can certainly ask her, her view but I think as a broad statement, it's very, very true. Yes?

Question: Mayor de Blasio, a recent analysis from FiveThirtyEight shows that you're the only Democratic candidate for president polling at negative number – you’re at negative one percent – I'm just curious, do you have any doubts about your campaign and if not, how?

Mayor: Well, I'm glad I've set a new record. I – again, I've talked to you all about polling a lot and I'll talk to you about it again. It is not where you start. It's where you finish. This is a very beginning of a long, long effort. And what I've seen all over the country is a really good response to the message, a real sense it's what happened – what is happening here in New York City is a great example of real change for working people. Folks I've talked to in the early states are really impressed by these changes that they've actually happened. They value experience.

So I think I have a story to tell for sure. And you know, when I look even at this last Saturday in South Carolina, I don't blame anyone who doesn't have a context yet on South Carolina, but you know, for Mayor Butler to come on board as not only a mayor of an important city in a crucial county, but is also a key clergy leader in the state, that's something that's very important to our campaign. So I feel good about the fact that we are building something that will get the message across and have the impact we want. But you know, I've told you guys, in pretty much every other contested campaign I've been in, started out very much as an underdog. So it's a place I know well.

Question: Did you meet your main fundraising goals?

Mayor: We're going to talk about fundraising when the filing is announced. Yes?

Question: On NYCHA, Mr. Mayor, last night on NY-1 you said that we've worked really hard to identify every child wherever there's an apartment with an issue in terms of lead paint. But NYCHA watch – federal watchdog Bart Schwartz said that in fact the agency relied solely on resident disclosure forms when determining where children under six live. They didn't look at kids that are residing with grandparents, that are residing off the books. How do you square the – you know, what the federal monitor is saying and then – and what you're insisting is a different story –

Mayor: So one, we want to work with the federal monitor for sure, and to date it's been a very cooperative, constructive relationship. We want it to continue to grow. I have real faith that Kathryn Garcia and Vito Mustaciuolo are doing things that have never been done before, ever in the history of the city – in any administration – to address lead. Not only in NYCHA, but in Kathryn’s case where most of the lead challenges, which is private housing, they have been adamantly trying to find every child. I said very honestly, there are times when families are not always forthcoming with the information and that's a challenge, but I want Kathryn to speak to you about the details, but I, you know, from everything I understand the monitor’s letter did not take into account the full effort and I think she and Vito have been putting an extraordinary effort together.

Question: [Inaudible] just quick follow-up on that. The agency has admitted though that it can't properly clear the apartments after lead inspections or keep track of all the necessary paperwork. And I think, in fact, they lost, like a third of the paperwork –

Mayor: I'm just not going to accept that, respectfully. You know, when you say you think, it's an immediate indicator to me I'm not responding to that as a matter of fact. But, more importantly, we had been working for several years now and particularly since we came to a very specific agreement to implement that agreement. This is unlike anything that's happened in the history of NYCHA or the City of New York. So, I am convinced that a huge amount of resources are being applied. There's a huge amount of focus. There's a huge amount of change happening. Most notably, that 135,000 apartments are being reviewed as we speak to get an ultimate determination whether there's lead or not – that’s never happened before, and what we're finding, thank God, is the number of apartments that don't have lead that will never have to deal with again. We always want to do better. I'm not going to rest until we have done everything conceivable, and that's why we take a Vision Zero approach. And far beyond NYCHA – I mean, I care deeply about the kids in NYCHA, I care about a lot of kids, you know, everywhere else too, and I want to make sure we get rid of lead once and for all. And we think it's doable, so that's the path we're on.

Question: This weekend, they celebrated 10 years of car-free Time Square and [inaudible] successful and a lot of calls to bring that to other neighborhoods. Why hasn't there been more concrete details of bringing car-free pedestrian areas to other parts of the city?

Mayor: Well, we did talk about this some weeks ago in terms of Lower Manhattan, that’s the place we're looking at next. You know, it's something that I think can be very valuable, but also has to be balanced against the growing congestion problem. So, we're going to be selective about it, but the next place we're looking at in particular is Lower Manhattan. 

Yes?

Question: I’m curious if a Paul Manafort is going to get unlimited free calls when he gets locked up in Rikers? And [inaudible] special cell set aside for him?

Mayor: Your concern for Paul Manafort's wellbeing is heartfelt, I know. Yeah, I don't know the details, but he is going to be treated, as much as humanly possible, like any other inmate. He would have the same rights and same responsibilities. Obviously, there are safety questions that have to be attended to, but the Department of Correction can give you details.

Question: Unlike many other progressives [inaudible] in favor of Israel and against BDS, does it bother you very much that some progressives that you openly admire have supported the BDS movement? And do you plan on the campaign trail or in personal discussions to actively call them out or change their mind?

Mayor: I want to change their mind. It's less about, you know, trying to start a fight with people as much as wanting to change their minds.

Question: [Inaudible] you views on it? 

Mayor: Look, I absolutely believe the State of Israel is as necessary, or more necessary than it's been in its history. And I keep coming back to – there is a global rise in anti-Semitism that's very troubling and very dangerous directly related to the right-wing movements, directly related to white supremacy. These – you know, the pieces are coming together and the dots are connecting in a very troubling manner. So, to have a place that is a refuge for the Jewish people is absolutely necessary. I believe 100 percent in protecting the State of Israel and I believe that the BDS movement – very misguided – is undermining the economy and the existence and the survival of the State of Israel. I also believe in a two-state solution, and I've always believed in a two-state solution. As President, I would work very hard for two-state solution, which I think is – excuse me – still within reach. But I want to convince my fellow Democrats and fellow progressives who have moved in a different direction that they're making a mistake. I also want to say, that is by far a minority of the Democratic Party. The vast majority of the Democratic Party, the vast majority of Democratic office holders are pro-Israel. 

Question: [Inaudible] progressive wing –

Mayor: Well, even within the progressive wing, which, again, there's not like a signup card, you know. It’s not – you don't put something in your wallet to show you're in that wing. If I were to take voting records of U.S. Senators and Congress members, I could show you numerous progressives who are pro-Israel and anti-BDS. So, I don't want to mistake the voices of the few here. But anyone – look, there are some people here I really do admire, you're right, but I disagree with on this issue, and I'm going to try and work to change their minds.

Question: When you were discussing the anti-Semitic crimes, you said although in New York it doesn’t seem to be so much –

Mayor: Correct – 

Question: [Inaudible] but there is a rise in white supremacy in America. 

Mayor: Right – 

Question: Is it not true that [inaudible] is also rising on the left in the BDS movement, and around the world. I know that, for example, in Europe, people were talking about these right-wing marches, but the actual crimes against Jews in countries like France is really been [inaudible] by Muslims, and that’s –

Mayor: Again, I would caution, I think it's much more complex than that. And I think the ideological movement that is anti-Semitic is the right-wing movement. That's just abundantly – it’s been clear down the history. And I think we could all agree, I think we can put the Nazis and the fascists on the right side of the spectrum, and they are the ultimate, unfortunately in this world history. And I'm saying – but I've said this many, many places – I said this in Paris after the first attacks – do you think that these right-wing movements in Europe are not connected to their predecessors? Do you think that there is – this is something that just sprung out of whole cloth? No. After World War II, a huge number of the former Nazis and former fascists were allowed to reintegrate into society. Right-wing parties developed even in the 50s and 60s in the same countries that had experienced fascism and Nazi-ism. They have continued to grow. So, I want to be very, very clear – the violent threat, the threat that is ideological is very much from the right. And that's something I want progressives to focus on in particular. It’s part of how I make the case that you need to be on the side of Israel, because you have to understand where all this is leading us. Sadiq Khan, you know, in the commentary he put forward a few days ago was making this point too. There's a trend happening before our eyes that we've seen before and we have to take it very seriously, and it's a very dangerous one for the Jewish people. 

Please?

Question: Mayor, you're going to Iowa this weekend?

Mayor: Yes.

Question: Can you give us a rundown of that trip? What you plan on doing there? As well as, you still haven’t, since announcing your candidacy – granted, I realize it’s been a month or so – 

Mayor: No, it’s been two weeks, and change –

Question: No way –

Mayor: It feels like a month, but it’s only been two weeks.

Question: Yeah, okay – yeah. Well, you still haven't been to New Hampshire. Do you think that New Hampshire is in play for you at all?

Mayor: Sure, New Hampshire is very important. And look, I grew up within a stone's throw of New Hampshire and people in New Hampshire support the same baseball team I do, and there's a lot of reasons I love New Hampshire – my troubled team that will someday resurrect itself. But no, New Hampshire is a very, very important piece of the equation and I'll be getting there soon. There’s been some particular events that are driving the travel, and it's the Hall of Fame event in Iowa, which is, I think, going to be attended by, if not every one of the presidential candidates, almost every one. That’s a crucial, crucial event, so that's the key element of the trip. 

Who hasn't gone? Yes?

Question: Mr. Mayor, do you have any updates on whether you’ve qualified for any of the upcoming Democratic candidate debates? And secondly, when will you release policy positions?

Mayor: In the coming weeks we'll start to release them. I mean, we've got now eight months ahead before you just get to Iowa, let alone everything thereafter. So, we'll be rolling out policy positions. Right now, I’m still, as I said, two weeks and change, introducing myself, helping people understand who I am, what I've done here, what I bring to this race. And if you look at other candidates, that’s what they spent their first weeks and months doing, and then you move on to the policy proposals. So, those are coming, for sure. 

I'm sorry, first part was – 

Question: Any update on whether you –

Mayor: Oh, well, by the standards that the DNC put out, we have the three qualifying polls. Now we all know there's a comparative reality that has to take place when the final cut is made, but we absolutely have the three qualifying polls. 

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: Again, I'm only speaking about the polling at this point. We are going to – we’ll have more to say at the time as we got closer. 

Who hasn’t gone? Yeah, go ahead –

Question: So, the Department of Health says that [inaudible] issued for the measles order, 58 of those were canceled because the individuals either got the vaccination or showed proof of immunity.

Mayor: Correct –

Question: Are you concerned that there's still people who are disobeying that order and having their families unvaccinated?

Mayor: Look, I think the big picture here is amazing – how much has moved. We're not there 100 percent yet, but we do see this crisis abating. The number of immunizations is huge. I mean, the comparison of this year to last – the number of children immunized is unbelievable in terms of the progress that's been made. We'll get you the latest figure, but it's been a tremendous, positive result since the Commissioner's Order was issued. The community leadership has been tremendously supportive and helpful in getting the word out. So, I would say, the idea of the violations was to show our seriousness. Since we did that, people have been obeying. And we never wanted to fine people. If they've just followed through we were happy with that. The same with schools – as you know, there were some we shut down – several cases for several days. But we now don't have any schools at this moment that we've had to shut down. So, I think it's working. There's always more to do, but I think it's working.

Question: Is there any other concern that some of these folks might be paying the fine and still keeping their kids unvaccinated because they're just so stubborn to follow the law?

Mayor: Again, to-date, what we have seen is we have not had to follow through. And we said this in the beginning, we were not going to fine for fining’s sake. We were putting the fine out there as a clear message that we meant business. But to-date, I don't know of a situation like you described. We have not had to follow through on the fines because people have been obeying.

Yes?

Question: Sort of going on the first topic, the safest big city aspect of today's press conference, tying it back into 2020 – 

Mayor: Yeah. 

Question: How much do you personally deserve credit for the crime statistics? It's something you talk about on the campaign trail. So do you think you personally deserve credit for the fact that crime has continued to go down?

Mayor: I think the men and women of the NYPD deserve the first credit, and the people in New York City who have been working so closely with them through neighborhood policing deserve tremendous credit as well. What I will say is, I'm very proud of the Police Commissioners I've chosen and the other key leadership that we've brought into positions in the NYPD. I’m very proud of having worked with the Council and get 2,000 more officers on patrol. I'm very proud of the fact that we ended the broken policy of stop and frisk, that we focused on training all of our officers – never been done before – in de-escalation and implicit bias. These are all policies that I fought for and believed in. So, I would say from a perspective of strategy and policy, I've made a very big imprint here, but the credit – the first credit goes to the people who've done such extraordinary work in the NYPD.

Question: [Inaudible] credit?

Mayor: Sure, I deserve some credit. There you go, I’ll take some credit.

Question: Mr. Mayor, it actually wasn’t you who pushed for the increase in the NYPD headcount, it was several years –

Mayor: I just said, the City, working with the City Council. 

Question: No, but you said those are all policies that I personally pushed –

Mayor: It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn't agreed to it. I’m Mayor, I don’t know if you saw that.

[Laughter]

Question: Last week on WNYC, you called the lawsuit against Chancellor Carranza, claiming that he has an anti-white bias, false, outrageous, and ridiculous.

Mayor: Correct.

Question: Today, there’s a story in the New York Post, which I know is a favorite newspaper, about the DOE pulling a job posting that specifically sought “teachers of color,” which legal experts said would be at violation of employment discrimination laws. The DOE is now investigating the incident. Does the posting not add support to the claim in the lawsuit? 

Mayor: No, that’s one – one individual put up that posting, they should not have done that. I agree that that's not legally appropriate – should not have happened. It's been fixed – won't happen again.

Question: Was it Principal Irene Sanchez –

Mayor: You can check with DOE because I want to make sure I get the name right, but it was an individual decision, not a policy decision. It’s not acceptable. 

Question: Mr. Mayor, it’s said that presidential candidates have to spend a lot of time on the phone to raise funding for their campaign –

Mayor: I did not hear about that, Rich. 

Question: Have you found yourself in that position? Have you had to spend a lot of hours on the phone? 

Mayor: It is part of being in any campaign. 

Question: How does it make you feel? I mean, that you have to –

Mayor: It makes me feel like I wish we had a public financing system. It's – no, it’s – look, you know, I think you've heard me talk about this before. I'm very proud of what we did this last November, and the people in New York City did by going to a system that really provides a huge amount of public financing and rewards low-dollar donations and gets people away from needing bigger donors in their lives, and that's the direction I hope will go in as a country. I think we will one day. I think when you look at the public opinion research in this country, it goes across Democrat, Republican, independent – people want to get big money out of politics, they want to get rid of Citizen’s United as a decision of the court, they want to go to a system that really focuses on the issues and not having to pursue money so much of the time. So, that's the world that I look forward to living in, but until we live in that world, I’ll have to raise money like every other candidate. 

Question: Any sense of how many hours a day you're spending doing that?

Mayor: I couldn't give you a specific number, but it's a part of every campaign. 

Back there – 

Question: I want to ask you about the Board of Elections. You threatened legal action if they don’t get up to the hundred sites you want. They announced [inaudible] they’re not at 57. Are there any updates to – 

Mayor: We’re trying to find an appropriate legal path that we can take. I still think it's unacceptable in light of the money that we're offering them, in light of the mandate in the State law to try and reach people. Our lawyers are working very hard because we just think it's inappropriate and I just don't understand why – this one makes literally zero sense. We're offering the money, we showed them where the sites were. We want early voting to work. We want early voting to work cause we want maximum participation, but we also want to take pressure off Election Day. It's in their interest to have fewer people have to vote on Election Day because they still can't handle Election Day. So, we're continuing to look at the options. 

Go ahead, follow up –

Question: The budget that’s going to be announced soon, [inaudible] in the –

Mayor: It’s in executive, so, yeah, we intend to follow through.

Question: When are you going to make a decision about whether that’s going to remain in, because, you know –

Mayor: It’s a good question. I don't know what the – and this is something I'd have to get our team to look at – what is the real drop-dead point for them using that money for the November election. Our hope was that the November ’19 election could be the shakedown to get ahead of, you know – the shakedown cruise – the test run to get ahead of 2020, which I will predict right here, right now, 2020 will be the largest turnout in our lifetime. And I think I might get unanimity in this room to say that if the Board of Elections handles Election Day the way they do right now, during an Election Day that's the biggest turnout in our lifetime, like, God help us. So, we've got to get ahead of it. And so, my hope was that we could really lock in a very robust early voting system now. But in terms of when that day comes where we no longer can provide the funding because it's too late, I don't think we're there yet, obviously, but I don't know when that would be.

Question: Mayor, looking at your presidential aspirations, your predecessors worked much harder that you have at boosting their national profile, and, frankly, even boosting their profile here in New York City in terms of weekly press conferences, you know, that kind of stuff. Can you explain this approach that you're taking? I mean, just a moment ago you were asked about can you take credit for the decrease in crime? And you reluctantly accepted credit.

Mayor: I would say I modestly acknowledged that many people are part of it, which I think is the right thing to do. Look, I'm not into when any politician acts like, you know, they created the whole world themselves. It's like, look, I'm very proud of what we've done here and I think it's made an impact. And I'll tell you, when I go around the country and I tell people we're the safest big city in America and I tell people what they've done, they can tell that leadership was an important part of that. So, I'm content that the message gets through.

Question: Can you name, say, five people who've run for elected office anywhere in this country who did so successfully on a modesty campaign?

Mayor: In this particular question, I think it was really important to give credit where credit was due. I think I've done a clear job for years and years. I mean, I'll remind you, I got elected with 73 percent of the vote, re-elected with 67 percent of the vote. The people of this city know what's going on, and I respect the work all of you do, but I want to say that, in the end, the people and the voters make their judgements based on lots and lots of different types of information, and they have seen what we've done. They saw what I wanted to do in 2013, they ratified it overwhelmingly. They've seen what we've done in the last four years, they ratified it for re-election. So, I think the message does get across. But in terms of the national picture, and I certainly have experienced this going around to Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, I lay out very clearly – and you're more than welcome to come out in the trail with me – I lay out very clearly what we've achieved here and people are very struck by the changes we've made in this city, and they feel good about them, and they want to see more. 

Go ahead –

Question: Do you have any pick for the Queen’s DA race?

Mayor: No, I've said many times I'm watching it closely. It's a very important race. Haven't made any decision of whether I'm going to get involved. 

Last call –

Question: [Inaudible] attacks on houses of worship around the world [inaudible] City Council members for an increase in the City funding for houses of worship. I’ve asked the Press Office [inaudible] Mayor’s looking at it. Can you say right now if you will support this bill?

Mayor: Right now, what we're seeing is a very intensive effort by the NYPD to protect houses of worship on a constant basis, and then when we ever see an indication of a problem to mobilize resources very quickly, intensely towards wherever the focal point is. So, we have the finest police force in the country, you know, we’re the safest big city in the country. In terms of protecting people physically, you just heard how much progress is being made. I feel like the NYPD has a very good handle on the situation, but we'll always keep an eye on it – we always will. 

Thanks very much.

pressoffice@cityhall.nyc.gov

(212) 788-2958