Yuh-Line Niou, who represents lower Manhattan in the state Assembly, had an unpleasant experience getting off the subway at Bowling Green the other day.
“I was just threatened,” she wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning, “by several of the ‘Statue of Liberty ferry’ ticket sellers who were blocking entry and exit from the train.” These hawkers are notorious for preying on tourists around the Battery, even going so far as to “sell” tickets to the Staten Island Ferry, which is free to ride.
Assemblywoman Niou reported her harassment to nearby NYPD officers, who “did nothing even when they were watching,” she complained on Twitter. “I went over to tell them, and they said that the city is choosing to doing [sic] nothing. They literally said, ‘Nobody cares. The city doesn’t care.’” Shocked by this disregard for maintaining public order, Niou identified herself as an elected official, but this, too, made no difference. “They said that the city doesn’t care. @NYCMayor told them not to do anything.”
Niou thus faced what many New Yorkers increasingly encounter on the streets and subways of our city — creeping disorder, antisocial behavior and a prevailing sense that “the city doesn’t care.” She was verbally assaulted — in vulgar terms — by scammers blocking pedestrian traffic, and the police stood and shrugged. We can only feel pity and anger for her plight.
Except Yuh-Line Niou has — ironically or not — campaigned, supported, and voted for all the policies that have led us to the point where aggressive, ugly and even criminal behavior is tolerated in the name of social justice.
Niou has been the subject of glowing profiles in Vogue and local media. Identified as “part of a coterie of young lawmakers,” Niou has been tagged, along with new Sens. Alessandra Biaggi, Jessica Ramos and Julia Salazar, as a fiercely progressive legislator aiming to push extensive and radical criminal justice “reforms,” among other priorities.
For instance, in her most recent constituent newsletter, Niou applauded the Legislature’s recent elimination of cash bail for most crimes. “Our current criminal system is deeply flawed, perpetuating racial bias,” she wrote. Niou endorsed Tiffany Cabán in her bid to become Queens district attorney. Cabán favors the total elimination of cash bail in all cases, promises to seek minimal prison sentences for violent felons and wants to decriminalize prostitution across the board.
Niou herself has sponsored a bill to repeal laws “relating to loitering for the purpose of engaging in a prostitution offense,” but she doesn’t think simply ceasing to arrest “sex workers” is enough. Decrim NY, a pro-prostitution group Niou supports, argues that “taking away our clients would mean taking away our survival” — and thus only full legalization of the sex trade is acceptable. In other words, she wants to legalize and even empower the social pathologies and forms of sexual exploitation that radiate disorder in the community.
The progressive vision of New York City that Niou and her colleagues envision simply doesn’t include prisoners. She wants Rikers to be closed, opposes the construction of a borough jail in her district and actually doesn’t want any jails built to replace the ones we close. “Close rikers. No new jails. Change our criminal-justice system,” she tweeted a few hours after her encounter with the thugs at Bowling Green.
We don’t have to fantasize too wildly about what the city would look like if Niou and Cabán get their way. North Brooklyn has seen a spate of shootings in the last few months, and the NYPD brass blames Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez, who subscribes to the same soft-on-crime principles as Cabán.
Gonzalez has allowed almost one-third of all weapons possession cases in Brooklyn to enter no-jail “diversion” programs. This practice has returned violent offenders to the street, where they have picked up where they left off.
It’s a shame that Yuh-Line Nuh was harassed and threatened getting off the subway. And it appears that her complaints have worked: The NYPD promised to act to clean up the situation around Bowling Green. Too bad Niou doesn’t realize that the rest of us still have to deal with the mess that she and her fellow progressives have dumped on the city. Nobody at One Police Plaza hops to when the rest of us complain about it on Twitter.
This piece originally appeared at the New York Post
Seth Barron is associate editor of City Journal and director of the NYC Initiative at the Manhattan Institute.
Photo by spyarm/iStock