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February 15, 2021
Brooklyn, NY – Yesterday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams joined elected leaders and representatives from Transit Workers Union Local 100 (TWU) outside the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Brooklyn headquarters to demand a series of steps to uphold public safety in the subways, while ensuring those experiencing severe mental health issues get the help they need. The calls to action come after a stabbing spree on the A line Friday evening into Saturday morning left two dead and two others injured. The attacks, which seemed to target homeless people in the subway system, are believed by law enforcement to be related. A suspect, who is homeless and has a history of mental illness, was arrested on Saturday and charged with one count of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of second-degree attempted murder. There has been an increase in violent incidents against MTA workers and straphangers over the last month, with four violent shoving incidents recorded this year to date, as well as 19 attacks against transit workers in the month of January – roughly double the number in the same month last year. Additionally, at least two more apparently random attacks were reported in the subway system yesterday. On Saturday, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) announced it would be deploying 500 more officers to patrol the subway system along all subway lines.
“It’s clear that our current approach to handling subway crimes isn’t working. We need to immediately rethink our outreach program on the subways, balancing public safety with the need for more proactive outreach to those struggling with mental illness, who are often both the perpetrators and the victims of these crimes. We also need to invest in more supportive housing, prioritizing New Yorkers in the shelter system. That’s why we are calling for a new comprehensive plan that ensures we are dealing with those who are struggling in a compassionate manner, while remaining steadfast in our commitment to public safety. The subway is the linchpin of our city’s recovery. I remember patrolling the subway in the 80’s as a transit cop, when some New Yorkers were afraid to use the system. We cannot go back to those dark days,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
Borough President Adams and others at the press conference, including Council Members Laurie A. Cumbo, Darma V. Diaz, and Ydanis Rodriguez, urged the City and State to adopt a four-point plan to immediately address the twin crises of public safety and mental health in the subways. Some of the changes would require legislation, while others could be achieved through administrative policy changes.
Borough President Adams also emphasized the need for more long-term solutions to the growing homelessness crisis in New York City, and help move homeless New Yorkers into stable housing. He repeated his call to expedite the City’s 15/15 Supportive Housing Initiative, which aims to create 15,000 units of supportive housing in 15 years, saying the window to create these units should be shortened to ten years. 20,000 families qualify for supportive housing in the city each year, but demand far outstrips supply. A recent estimate found that there is only one unit of supportive housing available for every six eligible applicants.
A link to a recording of the press conference is available here.
Brooklyn Borough Hall
209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
p: (718) 802 3700 | f: (718) 802 3778