Eric Adams blames bail reform for everything—here are 4 cases where he was wrong or lied.
The day after the election, Mayor Eric Adams appeared on MSNBC to blame criminal justice reform for Democrats’ midterm losses. As usual, he singled out bail reform. “The catch, repeat and release system is just destroying the foundation of our country,” he said. “And that’s why we’re losing this election.”
The idea that criminal reform and progressive crime rhetoric sunk New York Democrats is quickly becoming the prevailing narrative, helped along, of course, by the New York Times. “A Powerful N.Y. Democrat Was a Shoo-In for Re-election. What Happened?”
Ultimately, the Maloney loss tells us that some Democrats, especially those running in places with a heavy contingent of voters in law enforcement, will find themselves tainted by the rhetoric around “defund the police” even if they don’t come close to supporting it.
The same story notes that it’s people in the suburbs who were inspired to vote for Republicans because of crime in the city.
“The suburbs have been seeing local news at 5 and 6 o’clock that, night after night, pumps up anxiety about crime in New York City,” Mike Morey, a longtime Democratic communications consultant who worked with the Maloney campaign, told me. “This othering of New York City and what happens “down there” scares the bejesus out of suburban voters,” he said. “The irony is that candidates who represent areas where news coverage and paid media suggested crime was out of control will be re-elected and those who didn’t represent those areas are losing.”
Wow, crazy. It’s almost like there’s been a concerted propaganda campaign to paint the city as a crime-ridden Hellhole and pin the blame on Democrats and the progressive activists who popularized defund.
It’s no surprise that the Republican strategy was to scare the crap out of suburban voters. It’s their M.O. in most contexts. But a unique blue state Hell is that Democratic lawmakers, looking to outflank Republicans on crime, also spread lies about policing and criminal reform.
Back to Adams. The Mayor blames bail reform for everything. Anytime a high-profile crime occurs, the Mayor mounts the podium to demand the rollback of bail reform.
We rounded up four cases in which Adams pointed the finger at bail reform. In each case, he was either wrong or lying.
1. During Adams’ first month in office, 16-year-old Camrin Williams got in a tussle with police. His gun went off. The bullet slightly grazed the officer and hit Williams in the thigh.
Williams was able to raise enough money to pay bond on his $250,000 bail.
Adams claimed Williams went free “because judges are precluded from even considering danger to the community.” (Actually, it’s cash bail that allows people to go free based on how much money they have and not whether they pose a “danger to the community”).
Adams and the New York Post tried to paint the incident as a brutal gun crime targeting police. But when Williams appeared in court, the judge berated the arresting officers for initiating an illegal stop and then getting physical even though Williams complied with officers’ orders. The gun went off by accident and Williams suffered more serious injuries than the officer. The kid almost shot his own crotch off as police roughed him up—clearly he was not a wannabe cop killer.
Regardless, Adams is mistaken or lying about the “dangerousness” standard. Even if they can only remand in the most serious cases, judges have the power to set bail prohibitively high. In this case, the judge either didn’t view Williams as a serious threat or miscalculated his ability to make bond. There is literally no way the outcome would have been any different pre-bail reform.
2. Christina Lee was walking home one night in February when a man followed her into her apartment and stabbed her to death in her bathtub.
"It's horrific. It angered me, as well as all New Yorkers," Adams said from Albany, where he’d travelled to use Lee’s death to argue against bail reforms, agreeing with reporters that Lee’s alleged killer, Assamad Nash, was the “poster child” for bail reform.
Adams claimed that Nash had been out on bail after committing assault. Nash did have assault on his record. It’s not clear what he did, but it couldn’t have been worse than hitting or even shoving someone since he was charged with class-A misdemeanor, the lowest charge for assault. Felony assault remains bail-eligible.
But that’s not the charge for which he was out pre-trial. He was out on the even lesser charge of criminal misdemeanor in the fourth degree—it’s either accidentally or purposefully destroying a piece of property under $250 or participating in the “destruction of an abandoned building” (aka squatting?). I guess there’s no way to know if Nash would have been out pre-bail reform. But, probably. It’s not like judges never released people on their own recognizance before bail reform passed.
Looked at from another perspective, if judges remanded suspects or set prohibitively high bail in the pettiest of crimes—damaged property worth a quarter of the cost of an iPhone, in this case—literally everyone arrested for anything would get sent to Rikers. How’s that tenable?
An important and entirely overlooked factor here is that Lee started screaming for help the second Nash allegedly broke into her apartment. Her neighbors promptly called 911. Police arrived within 5 minutes. Then, officers with Adams’ NYPD waited in her hallway for over an hour waiting for a special unit as she was being stabbed to death.
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