(New York) By opening her tent, Synthia Vee explains why she is standing up to New York Mayor Eric Adams by refusing to leave the camp where she lives with other homeless people, under a scaffolding of the 9and Street in Manhattan.
Posted at 5:00 a.m.
“This camp means a lot to me,” she says hoarsely on this first Wednesday in April. “It’s not just a homeless camp. It is also a political statement that the solution to homelessness is housing, not shelters. »
We are not mentally ill or drug addicts, she adds. There is nothing wrong with us. We just need affordable housing.
A motley crowd is gathered in the rain in front of the camp. There are police officers, whose order to the homeless to evacuate their camp, given 24 hours earlier, was ignored.
There are also blue-collar workers, who have come to clean up the site, community workers, activists, journalists and some residents of the East Village neighborhood, where the scene takes place.
The confrontation lasts several hours. One by one, the homeless end up leaving the camp voluntarily, except for one, who is handcuffed and arrested along with six activists.
Meanwhile, blue-collar workers clear the site, throwing tents, mattresses and other items, including a few syringes, into dumpsters.
Since mid-March, New York City has destroyed more than 300 such encampments. However, only five of the homeless people who lived there agreed to go to one of the city’s shelters, deeming them too dangerous or restrictive. None of them was in the camp of the 9and Street.
On the day of the evacuation of this site, Donna Lieberman, director of the New York Union for Civil Liberties, accused the mayor of New York of having wanted to make “a cruel example of a handful of New Yorkers “.
Eric Adams defended himself by saying that evangelists supported him in his campaign to eliminate homeless camps in New York.
“As a city, we are on the wrong track,” he said last Thursday during a press conference held in the presence of religious leaders. “We tolerated the homeless situation, we walked past our brothers and sisters who live in tents on the street, and we found it normal. »
I can’t help but think that if Matthieu, Marc, Luc and Jean were here today, they would be on the street with me, helping people get out of the camps.
Eric Adams, Mayor of New York
This campaign and statement can serve to sum up Eric Adams’ 100 days as mayor of New York, which ended on Sunday. Both ambitious and controversial, the campaign has yet to yield the expected results. According to a recent census, some 2,400 homeless people are still sleeping on the streets of New York City, refusing to join the 48,000 others who live in shelters across the city.
But these mixed results do not seem to undermine the popularity of the 61-year-old Democratic mayor, nor do his sometimes questionable or provocative statements. According to a recent poll, 61% of New Yorkers approve of his performance.
Performance marked by the deployment of seemingly inexhaustible energy. Each incident of a certain importance seems to justify the presence of Eric Adams, who also prides himself on carrying out his own nocturnal investigations to study the situation of the homeless in the subway or on the street.
“When I visited some of these camps at 1am, 2am or 3am, I looked inside, talked to homeless people and saw people living in their droppings. […] It’s not dignified, it’s not acceptable,” he said in a radio interview last Friday.
Major crimes on the rise
The results of Eric Adams’s fight against crime are even more disappointing. The former NYPD captain had promised to make his city safer after a spike in gun violence and muggings on the subway over the past two years.
However, since taking office, on 1is Last January, crime increased in almost every category.
As of April 3, 2022, so-called major crimes had climbed 44% compared to the same period last year, according to data published by Politico.
Gunfire incidents, which had doubled last year from 2019 levels, have risen another 14% this year, according to the same source. Thefts increased by 47%, burglaries by 31% and assaults by 19%. Homicide is the only major crime to have decreased, by 9%.
Most experts agree that it is too early to conclude that the policies of the mayor of New York have failed. In particular, he has set up a new police squad whose mission is to attack illegal firearms. He also launched a partnership between the police and mental health professionals to stem the problem of homelessness in the metro, where some of them have committed assaults or high-profile murders.
And he urged state officials to toughen bail conditions, lamenting the number of crimes committed by individuals after being released pending trial. Last week he spoke to them, as well as his critics, after visiting the family of a 12-year-old boy in Brooklyn who was killed by a bullet that was not aimed at him.
“Which child will be next?” Which child will be next? “, he repeated in an indignant tone in front of journalists and residents. “When I act urgently and people tell me to slow down, I’m like, ‘Damn, what’s wrong with you?’ »
Nor will the four evangelists be able to help Eric Adams answer this question.