New York City congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D.) blamed her city’s spike in violent crime on poverty and unemployment, saying the "economic desperation" caused by the coronavirus crisis has led people to "shoplift some bread or go hungry at night."
"Maybe this has to do with the fact that people aren’t paying their rent. People are scared to pay their rent," Ocasio-Cortez, a vocal advocate for defunding the police, said. "So they go out and need to feed their child, and they don’t have money, so they’re put in a position where they either need to shoplift some bread or go hungry at night."
Though year-to-date burglaries have risen by 45 percent, petit larceny is down 7.5 percent, and grand larceny is down 20 percent, according to the latest NYPD crime statistics report. Over the same time frame, murders have increased by 27 percent, shooting incidents have increased by 53.5 percent, and the number of shooting victims has increased by 63 percent.
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Ocasio-Cortez said a better way to bring down crime would be to continue giving people stimulus checks.
"Maybe if we gave people repeated stimulus checks so they feel they can stay in their homes, we would see a mitigation in crime," Ocasio-Cortez said.
While Ocasio-Cortez and other advocates have called to reform and defund the police following the death of George Floyd, the number of shootings in New York and other cities has soared this summer. Over Independence Day weekend, 64 people in New York City were shot, and 10 were killed. On Saturday, 15 people were shot in the city in a 15-hour timespan.