Kevin Sheehan et al., New York Post, January 5, 2022
Manhattan shopkeepers expressed fear and anger on Wednesday that the new district attorney’s progressive policies will only serve to embolden small-time crooks and put them in harm’s way.
District Attorney Alvin Bragg, in a memo issued Monday, instructed his staff to stop prosecuting many low-level offenses, to seek reduced charges for certain crimes and not to ask for bail except in the most serious cases.
“This is very bad for this neighborhood,” said Modou Wade, owner of Bakh Yaye, a clothing and food store in Harlem, the area where Bragg grew up in the 1980s.
Wade, a 61-year-old dad of three, said the area is already plagued by crime, noting that his and other shops have reduced their hours out of fear of getting robbed. He was threatened with a gun inside his store in September, he said.
“Every day they come in with a knife and say give me something! It is a ridiculous area,” he said. “If it gets worse I will have to close, my wife tells me.”
Mamadou Diallo, 35, a clerk at nearby TAF Phone Card and Clothing store on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. said the shop had been robbed twice in the last three years.
But Bragg, in his policy memo, argued that “reserving incarceration for matters involving significant harm will make us safer.”
His office will halt prosecution of several non-violent crimes including fare-beating, trespassing, resisting arrest and interfering with cops, unless they are part of a larger, felony case.
Michelle Ortiz, 47, a worker at Starbright Design Floral store in Chelsea agreed “the punishement doesn’t fit the crime.”
“Hey, I’m going to rob you, I’m not going to hurt you, I’m just going to take your hard-earned money! Where is the deterrent?,” she said.
The District Attorney’s Office clarified on Wednesday that it would still prosecute armed robberies involving a gun as a felony.