‘New Yorkers don’t live in fear’: De Blasio fires blanks as homicide rate spikes in March, tourist takes bullet in Times Square

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Brittany Kriegstein, Michael Gartland and Larry McShane, New York Daily News
·4 min read
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Mayor de Blasio boldly insisted Wednesday New Yorkers are unrattled after 34 of them failed to dodge a fatal bullet last month, after a 5-year-old Brooklyn girl was grazed by a gunshot Monday outside her home, and after a Times Square tourist who’d just taken in a Mets game was hit by a stray shot walking to his hotel.

“I do not believe New Yorkers are living in fear,” the mayor declared. “It’s just not who we are. I believe there are some real issues we have to address .... But New Yorkers don’t live in fear. They keep moving forward. I really believe that.”

That’s not how Marlene Alam, 67 and a Flatbush resident for six decades, sees it.

“That’s bulls---,” she said hours after the mayor’s assertion. “I got attacked on a train twice ... I have a lot to tell de Blasio. Tell him to come to East 21st St. and Courtelyou Road around 11 (p.m.) People are walking around here with mental illnesses.

“They’re on goddam crack. They’re beating up senior citizens. It’s crazy.”

Mavia Williams, 32, a stay-at-home mom with three girls — including the 5 year old grazed early Monday evening by a stray bullet outside their East New York home — dismissed the mayor’s bravado.

”I don’t have any interest in politicians because what they say is only for show,” she said of de Blasio’s remarks on New Yorkers’ lack of fear. “It seems like an empty statement. He’s not really saying anything,” she said.’

”What his real plan. Is there an actual plan? Is there any plan at all?” she asked. ”I don’t really feel safe with shots going off in broad daylight,” she added. “You don’t know where they’re coming from, and you don’t know where the guns are coming from.”

Fatoumata Diallo, 32, echoed her Flatbush neighbor’s fears as the NYPD’s latest crime stats showed overall crime up last month by 2.4% compared to March 2020, a figure driven by a 36% jump in murders — 34 this year compared to 25 in March 2020.

Citywide shooting incidents spiked 76.8% this March, with 99 reported in contrast with 56 in March 2020.

“You have to watch your back,” said Diallo, mother of a 16-year-old girl. “I feel more nervous, because anything can happen. People have guns, they get upset, they get intoxicated. You don’t know exactly what they’re doing.”

Diallo, a night shift nurse at a neighborhood hospital, calls for an Uber rather than walk home through the neighborhood.

“Sometimes, it scares me,” she said.

De Blasio’s comments came at press conference where a reporter asked why he wasn’t talking more about the two most recent examples of city gun violence — and not visiting affected communities to blare the message that violence won’t be tolerated.

“It clearly won’t be tolerated because for years now we have been changing the whole reality of how we address crime and violence,” the mayor shot back.

“We had a horrible disruption last year — the perfect storm of COVID, but the NYPD is out there doing great work, more gun arrests than we’ve had in a quarter century. So of course we condemn all violence, but the best way to address violence is by getting guns off the streets, which the NYPD is doing by working with communities more closely,” he added.

Osa Aghedl, 29, from the Bronx said he agreed with the mayor about not living in fear — but only because gun violence has become so commonplace that he’s accustomed to it.

“It’s a norm, it’s an everyday norm. How you gonna be afraid of something that you used to?” he said. “Anything can cause death, stray bullet, a random heart attack, car accident. You gonna stop do what you’re supposed to be doing because of a stray bullet? There’s a million and one ways to die, people choose what they supposed to do because of a man-made situation? I’m not gonna let a gun fear my life.”

With Kerry Burke