HomeAsian AmericansManhattan DA fights soft on crime label

Manhattan DA fights soft on crime label

By Ti-Hua Chang, AsAmNews Staff Writer

Recently New York City Mayor Eric Adams said that criminals think the New York Justice system is a “laughingstock,” and repeat offenders are getting out of jail and repeating the same crimes. When asked about this, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Monday responded with a lengthy discussion of the need to treat defendants according to specifics: drug addicts need treatment, while violent criminals should be incarcerated.

“Some of the public discussion now I think doesn’t have a sort of a full understanding of what, how our system operates,”Bragg said.  “So some of this, we’ve scaled up but many of these programs have been in existence …in 2016 and 2015, when we were experiencing historic lows in both crime and incarceration.  So those who say that those two don’t go together are uniformed.”

IMPACT OF THE RECALL OF THE SAN FRANCISCO DA

After the recall of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin for the belief that he was too soft on crime, the progressive, reform-minded Bragg is continuing his meet and greets sessions with ethnic and local press and not mainstream press. He aims to give the public what he considers a more accurate picture of his stand on fighting crime fairly.

“…We’re doing these in part so that the readership can get the full scope of what we’re doing directly from, you know, a trusted source and maybe not another source and also directly from me not others.”

Bragg has his work cut out for him. Some Asians on WeChat have begun a recall petition against him and Bragg is a favorite target of major conservative news organizations like Fox News and the New York Post. (In New York only the Governor can recall a district attorney).

“ …I would hope to be judged on my own record and my own background. I’m a career prosecutor who’s done these cases for 20 plus years of work to keep people safe and make our system fair…”

Today he met with Asian American reporters including AsAmNews. Bragg, the first African American to hold the office, stated that in terms of violent crime the perception that criminals were getting out of jail is wrong and only two percent of violent criminals repeat.


But Bragg said he understands the concern people felt about crime noting he has had crime hit in front of his home in Harlem.


“I had a homicide victim on my doorstep and had a shooting in front of my home just last year.”

BRAGG NOTES HOMICIDE DOWN IN NEW YORK CITY

Police statistics confirm this. Murder so far in 2022 is down, but Bragg did not mention that felony assault, burglary, robbery and grand larceny are all up. In Manhattan, robbery went up 35%.


Bragg believes a few criminals are committing most of the gun-related crimes and robberies and should be fully prosecuted.

ANTI-ASIAN HATE CRIMES HAVE FEW CONVICTIONS

A report issued by the Asian American Bar Association of New York cited that out of 233 anti-Asian hate crimes there were only 7 convictions. The head of Bragg’s Hate Crime task force, Hannah Yu, challenged the accuracy of that report noting it was based in part on media reports. She added that 6 of the convictions were in Manhattan. Yu said of the 90 open hate crime cases in Manhattan, 35 to 40 were against Asians the rest against LGBTQ, Jewish and Black communities in that order.
(The DA’s press office later said there were nine convictions city-wide and seven were in Manhattan).

Photo by Ti Hua Chang, AsAmNews

ASIAN AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK SUPPORTS BRAGG

Interestingly, the co-executive editor of the report, Chris Kwok, told AsAmNews that Bragg has been the best District Attorney for the Asian American community ever.

“We give Bragg an A- grade and look forward to continuing to work with him.”


Bragg has requested an additional $1.6 million to expand the Hate Crimes unit growing it from the present four-person staff with assistant prosecutors rotating in, to 11 full-time staff with assistant prosecutors rotating in.

WELL-KNOWN, ALLEGED ANTI ASIAN ATTACKERS STILL IN JAIL

At the request of AsAmNews, The Manahttan DA’s office checked and found that the following are still incarcerated:

  • Jarrod Powell, accused of stomping to death Yao Pan Ma
  • Martial Simon, accused of killing Michelle Go by pushing her in front of subway train.
  • Assamad Nash, accused of stabbing to death Christina Luna Lee.
  • Steve Zajonc, accused of punching seven Asian Women as he walked downtown.

The DA’s press office added that Christian Jeffers, accused of a hammer attack against an Asian man in the subway, is also still incarcerated.

DA Bragg remains one of the few New York City elected officials to oppose building a megajail in Chinatown.

CORRECTION: In a previous edition of this story, we incorrectly quoted Bragg saying “he” meaning Mayor Adams did not have a full understanding of how the system operates. We based this on a transcript that uses artificial intelligence. Bragg actually said “the public discourse.” We regret the error. 

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