You are likely already familiar with the case of Tiffany Harris. The 30-year-old New York City native made plenty of the wrong sort of headlines over the holiday season, eventually going viral. She was arrested and charged with slapping three Jewish women and screaming vulgar antisemitic slurs at them. For some people in the Big Apple these days, that might have been just another day at the office. But the legend of Ms. Harris quickly grew when she was almost immediately released without bail. The very next day she was arrested on a fresh charge of related activities. Before a week had passed she was arrested a third time.
Here’s where the story takes a strange turn. The New York Post has learned that on New Year’s Eve, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office intervened in the case, having a special court hearing ordered which resulted in a psychiatric hold and evaluation on the suspect. But it sounds like it had far less to do with solving the crimes or seeing to her welfare than protecting City Hall’s image at a critical time.
Mayor Bill de Blasio intervened in the prosecution of an accused anti-Semitic attacker — leading to her lock-up in a psych ward — because she was generating negative publicity for his administration, The Post has learned.
Brooklyn’s supervising judge was forced to hold an unscheduled hearing late on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve after City Hall contacted the state Office of Court Administration about Tiffany Harris, 30.
Harris’ repeated release from custody after back-to-back arrests late last month — including for allegedly slapping three Orthodox Jewish women and shouting “F-U, Jews!” on Dec. 27 — had made her a symbol of revolving-door justice amid the state’s new bail reform law and de Blasio’s gift programs for newly released jail inmates.
It would be easy for some people reading the headlines in the Post to jump to the conclusion that the Mayor was somehow intervening to let Harris off the hook and not taking the recent raft of antisemitic attacks seriously, but that doesn’t seem to be what’s going on here. Or at least… not entirely.
The real problem was that all of this was going down and blowing up both on social media and in the New York newspapers within 24 hours of when the new set of New York laws dealing with bail reform was about to officially go into effect. The new rules would see everyone let out of jail without bail for all misdemeanors and a host of other, more serious crimes, up to and including manslaughter and selling narcotics in a school zone. Some judges appeared to be applying the new rules a bit early just to get in the spirit of things.
At the same time, the papers were having a field day with de Blasio’s personally endorsed laws giving ex-prisoners all sorts of free goodies upon their release as a supposed incentive to stop breaking the law and show up for probation meetings and such. Harris was an obvious pain in their side because these soft-on-crime rules aren’t terribly popular and Harris was being used as an example of how the city was quickly returning to the bad old days of rampant crime and dangerous streets.
Combine all of that with the national attention being drawn to all of the attacks on Jews in New York City and elsewhere and it was an obvious headache for de Blasio. So he allegedly pressured the court to hold an unscheduled session for Harris and have her remanded for psychiatric evaluation. Give how quickly she wound up back in jail every time they let her out, this probably seemed like the quickest way to get her off the streets and keep her name out of any future, New Year’s Day headline if she decided to punch out some more Jewish women.
Personally, I can’t complain all that much about seeing Harris locked up for mental evaluation. She certainly seems crazy from everything we’ve seen thus far and is probably in need of some help, along with some serious jail time for attacking Jews on the streets. But the point of this story isn’t really Harris’ future prospects. It’s how de Blasio handled the affair, using the muscle of City Hall to pressure the courts into making this problem go away before the ball dropped at midnight. Not exactly the Mayor’s most shining hour in an administration where positive moments have been few and far between.