NYC Mayor: Even I don't feel safe on the subway

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

On the day that he was sworn into office as the next mayor of New York City, Eric Adams decided to take the subway as a way of staying in touch with the people and the realities that they face in day-to-day life in the Big Apple. It didn’t go well. In fact, he wound up calling 911 during his trip. He was reporting people who were yelling and fighting in the rail cars and at the terminals. Of course, he got off rather lightly compared to the woman who was recently pushed to her death in front of a subway car by a deranged homeless man. Those memories were still with Mayor Adams when he gave his first press conference this week. Rather than trying to downplay the crime in his city, Adams took a more realistic and direct approach, telling reporters that people don’t feel safe on the streets anymore and something has to be done about that. (ABC News)

After a woman was pushed to her death in front of a New York City subway train beneath Times Square over the weekend, Mayor Eric Adams acknowledged to reporters Tuesday that even he didn’t feel entirely safe riding the rails.

The Democrat recounted when he rode the train on Jan. 1, not long after taking the oath of office, he called 911 to report a fight near a subway station, encountered a yelling passenger and another passenger sleeping on a train.

“On day one, I took the subway system, I felt unsafe. I saw homeless everywhere. People were yelling on the trains. There was a feeling of disorder. So as we deal with the crime problem, we also have to deal with the fact people feel unsafe,” he said.

Adams seemed to be bringing up the incident as a way to highlight his plans to put more police in the subway system to combat both crime and homelessness. There are still activists who oppose his plans to “refund the police” this year, but I’m assuming that none of them need to use the subway system.

While the Mayor pointed out that the tunnels are “generally safe,” (a term that is clearly up for debate) he recognizes that a lot more needs to be done.

The murder of Michelle Alyssa Go after being pushed onto the rails highlights one of two major related problems that New York and other large cities are dealing with. A lot of the crimes being committed in the subway tunnels are being done by gang members and the occasional lone-wolf who find it easier to rob people in dark, enclosed spaces. But at the same time, the homelessness situation, which Adams drew attention to, is causing a lot of these issues as well.

John recently wrote about the epidemic of crimes – frequently lethal in nature – being committed by homeless men against women. The fact that many of these homeless men are suffering from mental illness and/or substance abuse issues seems to make many politicians treat them as sympathetic figures rather than hardened criminals. But the crimes they commit are every bit as real and dangerous as the ones being perpetrated by the Crips or the Bloods.

Part of the root cause of this epidemic of crime can be found in the societal decision back in the 90s to empty out the hospitals for the mentally ill and turn them loose on the streets. It’s a decision that we’re still paying an increasingly heavy price for. But Adams and other leaders of large urban centers seriously need to wake up and smell the coffee burning. Both the rampant increase in gang-related violence and deranged assaults by the homeless need to be dealt with if we want our cities to return to some acceptable level of safety and security. Wringing our hands and trying to blame the police for these problems while we treat the criminals like victims has obviously produced nothing but more crime. Adams is talking a good game thus far and if his approach produces results, we need to find a way to get other major municipal governments to follow suit. It’s starting to look far too much like a real-world version of Escape from New York out there and the situation needs to be brought under control before the damage is simply irreversible.