Shootings spiked in New York City over the holiday weekend, with 37 people shot and 9 killed over a 9-hour period on Sunday night. The outbreak of violence occurred in the midst of a dramatic rise in shootings in the city this year, even as protesters called for defunding the police and Mayor Bill de Blasio (D.) announced a $1 billion cut to the NYPD's budget.
In total, at least 63 people were shot and 11 were killed this weekend. Compared with this time last year, there have been 52 percent more shooting victims in the city, with 616 people shot, according to the most recent NYPD statistics. Year-to-date shooting incidents have also increased by 44 percent from last year.
Mayor de Blasio announced his plan to slash the police budget last week, in response to the deaths of George Floyd and others in police custody and the protests calling for defunding and reforming the police.
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New York City police commissioner Dermot Shea said releasing prisoners from Rikers Island—the city’s main jail—during the coronavirus pandemic contributed to the increase in shootings.
"The saddest part is this has been predictable. You heard me say a storm is coming, and we’re in the middle of it right now, we are in a perfect storm of sorts," Shea said in an interview with NY1 on Monday morning. "With COVID, the Rikers population. Look at the Rikers population of the last year. Ask a sane person. It's about half. And where is that other half right now? We've transplanted the general population to the streets of New York City and it's extremely frustrating."
Shea said the police department lacks support and called the New York City council’s recently passed police-reform bill, which bans the police from using choke-holds, "insane."
"We don’t need a lot of new things, what we need is support, and that’s in short supply," Shea said. "The [bill] is insane. It’s crippling the police. Police officers shouldn’t have to worry more about getting arrested than the person with the gun that they’re rolling around on the street with."