The winner of the New York City Democratic primary election for mayor, Eric Adams, focused on what he called his more conservative plans to address an increase in gun violence, and is set to meet with President Biden today at the White House. “The way that we counter these increases in incidents [of crime] is through economic opportunity and community investment in communities where these surges are happening,” responds New York Democratic Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “The message should not be that we should continue to overpolice and oversurveil people in order to create reductions in crime and increase public safety.”
More from this Interview
- Part 1: No U.S. Troops in Haiti: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says Military Mission Would Not Help Country
- Part 2: Rep. Ocasio-Cortez: Adams’ Win in NYC Mayoral Primary Shows Need for Community Investment, Not Police
- Part 3: Rep. Ocasio-Cortez: Progressives May Sink Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Without Reconciliation Deal
- Part 4: AOC: U.S. Must Mass Produce COVID-19 Vaccine for World, or Pandemic Could Drag On for Generations
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Representative Ocasio-Cortez, I wanted to ask you something closer to home: the mayoral race in New York City, the mayoral primary. Eric Adams has won that primary. He defeated a candidate that you were backing, Maya Wiley. I wanted to ask what your sense is of what the message of the Democratic voters were — or, was in this election.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yeah. You know, I think anyone who’s here in New York City knows that this race, I would — you know, this race was not — I don’t believe it was a primarily ideological race. This was our first ranked-choice election for mayor in the city’s history. And I believe the race had a lot of different complicated dynamics. First and foremost, I think we had a COVID recovery front and center.
So, you know, I believe that Mayor Adams, or, you know, presumptive — presumptive, who may be presumptive mayor, Eric Adams, he ran a strong logistical operation. He ran a strong on-the-ground operation. And, you know, I do not believe that this is some large bellwether for the country or for Democratic voters in the country. I think it was very just indicative of a pretty wild race. And anyone who was following this race knows and can see the dynamics that were happening throughout, with candidates really cycling through surging at one moment and not at others.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And your hopes for recovery for New York City? Because, amazingly, because of COVID, many of these local governments and state governments now have more money as a result of federal assistance than they’ve ever had before. What are your hopes of the rebound of New York City?
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, you know, I think the thing that we really need to focus on is an equitable recovery and a just recovery. And what’s really important to note is that even prior to COVID, the city was on a very dangerous precipice. Real estate prices and prices of housing were going through the roof. Rents were going through the roof. And small businesses were already starting to be driven out of — were already starting to be driven out of business and having mass closures because of the skyrocketing costs of real estate, housing, and rent on small businesses. And so, my hope is that this recovery is just and that it centers working people and it centers a recovery that also approaches, frankly, public safety from an evidence-based approach, which we know is centered in anti-violence and community-based programming.
AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s talk about that, very quickly. Congressmember, you, of course, have supported Tiffany Cabán. She won her race for City Council. For the first time, the majority of those who won in the primary are women. She said, quote, when talking about Eric Adams, “Even to look at who people voted for at every level of government, you look at districts like mine, where in Astoria Houses, overwhelmingly, voters were Tiffany Cabán and Eric Adams voters. Say what you want to say about Eric Adams, but, for example, he has been somebody who has supported the Crisis Management System and expanding violence interruption systems.” She’s supported by the Democratic Socialists of America. But nationally, I mean, you have President Biden meeting with Eric Adams today as he speaks about crime with Attorney General Merrick Garland and others. It’s taken by the Democrats as no to defund the police and yes to a heavy police presence. Do you think that’s the wrong message to take?
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: I do. I do think that it’s the wrong message to take. I do believe that very heavily, because — and it’s not just a matter of personal opinion, but we also see public polling showing that that is the wrong interpretation to take, as well.
Now, this is not to say that people should not be concerned with public safety. And what we do know is that people across the country are increasingly concerned about incidents of public safety. And this is mirrored by public health data that we see. There is an increase in crime and in incidents of violence as the country really reopens up from the pandemic, and the desperation created by, frankly, very poor U.S. response to the pandemic in terms of the economic devastation. And so, as things open up, we’re starting to see more crime and incidents of violence.
Now, that should absolutely be a point of concern, but the response to that should not necessarily be overpolicing. And Americans know that. We have seen recent polling — I believe from ABC News, but I could be mistaken on polling outlet — but margins from about 65 to 75% of those polled are showing that the way that we counter these increases in incidents is through economic opportunity and community investment in communities where these surges are happening. And we see that that’s not only where the polling is, but that’s what the data shows and that’s what the evidence shows is the best way to support reductions in crime. It is with anti-violence programs, which is one of the reasons why I’ve requested community funding projects to help support anti-violence programs, which can help reduce incidents and reoccurrence of violence by more than 50%, which is more effective than almost any policing strategy that we know of. And so, the message should not be that we should continue to overpolice and oversurveil people in order to create reductions in crime and increase public safety. And I think that the point that —
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Rep. —
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Sure, go ahead.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Oh, I’m sorry.