The Memorial Day weekend was the first major holiday in the city since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. It was also a weekend ruled by violence taking lives and getting police ready for what could be a violent summer.
There were a reported 12 people shot during an 11-hour period on Memorial Day. Among the victims was a 15-year-old boy in East Harlem who was fatally shot in the torso. The victim, Amir James, and a 30-year-old man were shot on East 123rd Street and Lexington Avenue. James died on his way to Harlem Hospital. The man was shot in the leg and was in stable condition. No arrests have been made.
There were shootings reported in all five boroughs Monday night. The NYPD reports that shootings are up 77% from this time last year.
The AmNews reached out to the police department about the violence and did not get a response at press time. Speaking in a televised interview, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said that people are shooting people they know; however, innocent victims are getting caught in the crossfire.
“Incidents of gunfire, whether anyone is hit or not, really traumatizes the whole block. Then you start thinking, ‘I don’t want to send my kids out to the store or to play in front of the house,’” Shea said. “So this is something that affects all of us, and that’s why we’re so committed to stopping it.”
One the most violent incidents on Memorial Day took place in Brooklyn during a shootout at a bodega in Bushwick where five people were shot. Gang rivalry is being blamed for the incident.
In other Memorial Day shootings, a man was shot in Crown Heights on Presidents Street; a 36-year-old man was taken to the hospital in Jamaica, Queens when he was shot in the ankle; a 19-year-old man and a 20-year-old man were shot in Concord, Staten Island; and a 58-year-old man was shot in the shoulder in Melrose, Bronx.
Queens State Sen. James Sanders Jr. and the New York State Association of Black, Puerto Rican Hispanic & Asian Legislators are pushing his legislation requiring buyers of any firearm, rifle or shotgun to submit to a mental health evaluation and provide the seller with their approval to purchase a firearm.
Sanders said at a press conference this week that many of the perpetrators of gun violence have mental health issues.
“We have had many tragic shootings in my district covering Southeast Queens, throughout the state and nation, that show the need to take stronger action to prevent gun violence,” Sanders said. “Mass shootings have become an epidemic in America. Tens of thousands of Americans are killed each year from gun violence.”
Previously, Mayor Bill de Blasio blamed the rise in violence on courts being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The court system has now been back in operation for two weeks and de
Blasio said it could take months before the court system is back to full strength.
“Recovery is going to help move public safety, public safety is going to help move recovery,” he said. “A recovery is definitely helping, more and more people coming back to the life of the city. All of these things are going to add up, including a lot of investments in communities, a lot of focus on Cure Violence and Crisis Management System.”
Over the holiday weekend, Washington Square Park was a hotbed for violent behavior. The NYPD reports that people were making threats towards police officers, jumping on vehicles and throwing things at officers. People also refused to leave the park after it closed.
In response, the NYPD announced that Washington Square Park will close at 10 p.m. on weekends instead of midnight.