It all started innocently enough when former Brooklyn Democratic Councilman Sal Albanese, who represented Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and Bensonhurst for 15 years, noted on twitter last week that “if you occasionally check @citizenAppNYC you can’t help but notice the volume of incidents involving guns in NYC.”
For those that are not experts on social media, Citizen is a mobile application that provides crime and safety alerts, real-time incident updates, and live user-generated video streams. The information comes mostly from 911 and users can track what is being reported in their neighborhood.
This innocuous tweet from Albanese, who also ran in the Democratic primary against Mayor de Blasio in 2017, sparked a sharp and defensive rebuke from Councilman Justin Brannan, also a Democrat who now represents the same district as Albanese did from 1983-1998.
After someone noted that Brannan has questioned and minimized the Citizen app, Albanese said this was a case of “denial” about crime. Brannan harshly replied to one of his predecessors, “Sal, you have a bad habit of believing everything anonymous trolls tell u on here.” The current Councilman referred to a column he wrote that said Citizen app “lacks credibility” and is just “scaring the hell out of people.”
This is the typical response of progressives whenever anyone dares to note that crime just might be increasing because of their policies that have swung the pendulum of justice heavily in favor of criminals over victims and law abiding New Yorkers.
Over the past two months, almost 100 cars had their tires slashed or were keyed along Shore Road in Bay Ridge. Proving that these were no sporadic incidents, figures show a clear increase in some crimes in the 68th Precinct compared to last year, including robbery (+31%), petty larceny (+12.3%), and burglary (+4.5%), among others.
When local GOP Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis spoke about these statistics and the Shore Road incidents, she blamed the progressive policies and anti-cop rhetoric from City Hall, but Brannan would not have any of it. Instead, he asked for more lights and police on Shore Road. What Brannan and his far-left brethren do not get is that criminals do not fear real consequences if they are caught.
The Shore Road car vandalism is the perfect example. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez recently announced a new program for those charged with vandalism, like slashing and keying cars. Instead of facing a judge, these vandals are sent to a two hour art class at the Brooklyn Museum and! Not a word about this from Brannan.
Even though “official” crime statistics may not show a marked increase in all crime, it does not render meaningless the real and growing fear people have. Brannan recently tweeted, “A constituent just told me she was very concerned because there had been ‘so many rapes, shootings and stabbings’ in our community lately…of course, she was basing this off the unfounded insanity she sees on the Citizen App.” Once again, the Councilman gave the instinctive progressive dismissal of anyone who dares to claim that crime is up, or even just feels less safe today.
Albanese, who was a member of the City Council Public Safety committee, then challenged Brannan to a debate tweeting, “Always interested in facts, Justin! Let me know when you want to have a public debate on public safety & I will point how u & your patron Bill de Blasio have demoralized the NYPD. We can also review crime stats in my old district & also discuss how stats are manipulated.”
As a Republican and Reform party candidate for City Council in 2017, where Brannan ultimately won, I also highlighted the close professional and personal relationship between Brannan and de Blasio and how this would likely cause him to be restrained when it came to standing up to the Mayor on crime policies. Unfortunately, this has become a reality including with his vote to blindly support de Blasio’s plan to close Rikers Island, which will require a drastic decrease in the prison population that will require releasing more criminals on the streets.
Brannan has not accepted the challenge from Albanese but if he did, it would be an outstanding discussion between the criminal justice “reformers” and the more sensible moderate Democrats like Albanese.
It is unfortunate that so many of today’s Democrats have become hostages to the far-left. They march in virtual lock-step to pass legislation that favor criminals, and are silent when anti-police protesters, like in Downtown Brooklyn last month hold up signs that say “Fu-k the police” and “Don’t let these pigs touch us.”
Is it really any wonder why criminals feel emboldened? But, according to local Democrats there is nothing to fear and those who say otherwise are just fear-mongerers.