UNITED STATES NEWS

Brawl between migrants and police in New York’s Times Square touches off backlash

Feb 5, 2024, 4:48 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — A video showing a group of migrants brawling with police in Times Square has touched off a political furor and renewed debate over a a long-standing New York City policy that limits cooperation between local police and federal immigration authorities.

The surveillance footage, recorded Jan. 27 outside a Manhattan homeless shelter, shows several men kicking officers on a sidewalk and trying to pry them off a man police had taken to the ground. Police have arrested seven people in connection with the attack, though prosecutors dropped charges against one person they say may not have been involved.

Nobody was seriously hurt, but the video of officers being pummeled has prompted waves of public outrage. Some of that fury has been directed at prosecutors and the court system after several of those arrested were freed from jail while awaiting trial.

Increasingly, New York City officials have aimed dire rhetoric at the tens of thousands of asylum seekers the city has put up in shelters and hotels over the past year. Some of the comments have dismayed immigration advocates, who say they are stirring up hatred over the actions of a few bad apples.

“A wave of migrant crime has washed over our city,” Police Commissioner Edward Caban said at a news conference Monday about a Venezuelan man being sought in a series of cell phone robberies. He likened the suspect’s accomplices to ”ghost criminals,” claiming they had come to New York “with no criminal history, no photos, no social media.”

The NYPD released a video showing Mayor Eric Adams joining officers as they raided a Bronx apartment building in connection with that investigation Monday morning. The video included ominous music and an officer warning of “migrants preying on vulnerable New Yorkers,” while footage plays of a woman being dragged behind a scooter during a purse-snatching.

Pressed for details to back up the claim of a crime wave, however, police and city officials said they couldn’t provide them because the city doesn’t track crime trends by the nationality of suspects.

Most categories of crime are down since a surge of migrant arrivals began 18 months ago.

Alexa Avilés, the head of the City Council’s committee on immigration, accused the mayor and the NYPD of playing into “the same old Trumpian fear mongering and the systematic scapegoating of a diverse and vulnerable group of people.”

“I thought ‘crime was down?’” Avilés added. “Where is the evidence to support these claims?”

In press appearances Monday, Adams noted the vast majority of the nearly 175,000 migrants who have come to the city are law abiding. He said it would be wrong for “any New Yorker to look at people trying to fulfill the next step on the American Dream as criminal.”

But in recent days, Adams has also shown a willingness to pull back on a set of laws that often block the city from cooperating with federal immigration enforcement efforts.

Describing the Times Square incident as “an attack on the foundation of our symbol of safety,” Adams, a moderate Democrat and former police captain, called on the City Council to consider “if there should be more collaboration” with federal immigration officials. He did not elaborate.

Since 2014, the police department and city jails have been barred from holding people in custody on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement unless they have been convicted of certain violent crimes and a judge has issued a warrant for their removal.

Federal immigration authorities don’t have a presence in the city’s jail system. City resources aren’t supposed to be used to assist in the detention and deportation process.

Experts said it wasn’t immediately clear what role, if any, the city’s so-called “sanctuary” policies may have had in the cases of the men accused of assaulting officers in Times Square.

An ICE spokesperson did not respond to an emailed question about whether they were seeking to detain the individuals involved in the brawl.

Though police officials have expressed outrage that five of the six suspects arrested were released, the city’s immigration policies have no bearing on the decisions of prosecutors and judges who set bail.

Responding to public criticism, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has said his office was still working to ensure that all of the men were correctly identified. One of the men arrested was not prosecuted because of insufficient evidence of his involvement, a spokesperson for Bragg said.

He said additional people involved in the attack would likely be arrested in coming days. Prosecutors are to present evidence to a grand jury staring Tuesday.

Proponents of the city’s sanctuary laws say they bolster public safety by ensuring immigrant communities are not afraid of interacting with the legal system – not only as criminal defendants, but as witnesses or potential victims of crimes.

A decade ago, New York City held up to 3,000 people in custody each year for the purpose of helping federal immigration authorities initiate detention and deportation proceedings. In some cases, immigration attorneys said, police would proactively alert federal authorities immediately after making an arrest – long before a conviction was secured.

At a news conference Monday alongside conservative elected officials, Kenneth Genalo, the field office director in New York for ICE, said the city’s lack of cooperation had made it harder to deport criminals.

“We’re no longer contacted,” he said. “There are hundreds of people being arrested throughout the city, and if we can’t determine which ones are the most violent, we have to find out unfortunately through the media.”

Murad Awawheh, the executive director of the Immigration Coalition, warned that the mayor’s comments about rolling back sanctuary protections could have a chilling effect among the city’s more than half-million undocumented immigrants.

“Why are they fanning the flames now?” Awawdeh said. “It seems he’s trying to get people to look away from the bigger issues, which is his lack of management of the city at the moment.”

United States News

Associated Press

Alabama Senate OKs bill targeting college diversity efforts

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers have advanced legislation aimed at prohibiting universities, schools and public entities from maintaining diversity and inclusion offices or funding initiatives that teach what Republicans labeled as “divisive concepts.” The multi-pronged proposal is one of dozens of bills introduced by Republican lawmakers across the country that would restrict initiatives on […]

4 minutes ago

Associated Press

Wyoming starts selecting presidential delegates Saturday. But there’s not a statewide election

WASHINGTON (AP) — Although the South Carolina primary has been the focal point of the GOP presidential nomination fight for much of the last month, it’s not the only contest on Saturday where Republicans will be voting for a presidential candidate or where all-important delegates will be at stake. More than 1,800 miles away, state […]

16 minutes ago

Associated Press

Facing backlash over IVF ruling, Alabama lawmakers look for a fix

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Lawmakers began scrambling for ways to protect Alabama in vitro fertilization services after multiple providers paused services in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos could be considered children under a state law. Facing a wave of shock and anger from the decision, legislators prepared separate proposals […]

21 minutes ago

Associated Press

Astronomers spot new tiny moons around Neptune and Uranus

WASHINGTON (AP) — Astronomers have found three previously unknown moons in our solar system — two additional moons circling Neptune and one around Uranus. The distant tiny moons were spotted using powerful land-based telescopes in Hawaii and Chile, and announced Friday by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center. The latest tally puts Neptune at […]

60 minutes ago

Associated Press

2 children were killed when a hillside collapsed along a Northern California river

SHASTA LAKE, Calif. (AP) — Two children were killed when a hillside collapsed along a river in Northern California, which has been hit by a series of winter storms. The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that the two victims were caught in the debris and fell down the hillside Thursday morning near […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Teens broke into a Wisconsin luxury dealership and drove off with 9 cars worth $583,000, police say

WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — A group of teenagers believed to be from the Chicago area broke into a luxury car dealership in Wisconsin and drove off with nine vehicles worth more than a half-million dollars, police said. Sunday’s heist at a Jaguar-Land Rover dealership in Waukesha was captured on surveillance camera footage showing nine masked […]

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Brawl between migrants and police in New York’s Times Square touches off backlash