Thursday, October 21, 2021
HomeStatesideDateline New York: Things you haven’t seen before

Dateline New York: Things you haven’t seen before

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FROM bystanders dumping buckets of water on police officers during an arrest to a shirtless man wielding a flamethrower on top of a bus, incidents like these have inspired a new topic of conversation amongst law enforcement officers in NYC station houses, according to an NYPD detective friend, which they refer to as ‘things you haven’t seen before’.

I have a few examples of these stories, too.

I grew up just outside of NYC, but I’ve been socializing and living in the city for nearly 30 years. Throughout these years, I’ve seen people smoke cigarettes on public transportation, but never illegal drugs. Until the last six months, when I’ve seen people openly smoking marijuana on the bus and one man smoking crack on the subway.

Anyone who has been in the city during the last year has seen how out-of-control the graffiti has become. It’s everywhere. Sure I’ve seen graffiti before, but I’ve never seen anyone doing it. That is until these last few months, when I’ve seen graffiti vandals in action three times. Twice it was the meaningless tagging (both times done blatantly in broad daylight and in the presence of pedestrians), while the third incident was political graffiti done at night by a couple of protesters who wrote something in Spanish denouncing immigration officers. 

During my years in NYC, I’ve been the victim of an attempted mugging three times and always got away unscathed (each time my fight-or-flight response kicked in and I chose the latter), but I’ve never seen anyone get mugged. That is, until last Sunday night. I was riding my bicycle northbound on the West Side Highway bike path in Battery Park at 7pm when I saw three black men step in front of a food delivery man on an electric bicycle. As soon as the delivery man stopped, one of the perpetrators started to rummage through the food bag, while another grabbed at the phone mounted on the handlebars. The three then got into a new BMW (I thought it was poverty that bred crime?) which was waiting for them on the West Side Highway. As I rode past their vehicle, I slowed down in an attempt to take a photo of the license plate, when one of the men shouted, ‘What are you looking at, cracker?’ Again, fight or flight? Again, I chose the latter. 

Why are we seeing things we haven’t seen before? The removal of bail for lower-level crimes such as the ones cited above might be one explanation. If a criminal knows he’ll be back on the streets that very same day, why wouldn’t he take the risk of committing a crime? Also, New York’s finest have lost the backing of the mayor – Bill de Blasio would rather side with racial agitators than defend his police force, which leaves the cops’ hands tied while trying to fight crime. Add to all this a push to defund the police by progressive politicians, and you end up with an emboldened criminal class doing things you’ve never seen before. 

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Thomas Lane
Thomas Lane is a writer who lives and works in New York City.

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