Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has been subjected to a tough grilling from CEOs and business leaders venting their fury over his new policies downgrading many felony charges.
Bragg on Friday joined a private Zoom meeting with members of the Partnership for New York City, as he continues his public relations junket in a bid to soothe concerns over his policies.
It came just hours before two NYPD cops in were shot in Harlem, at least one fatally, leading to a top police union boss to point the finger at Bragg for endangering officers with his controversial policies.
During the meeting, many of the city’s top CEOs warned Bragg that violent crime was approaching epidemic levels in the city, and that their workers don’t feel safe coming to the offices, according to Fox Business.
Deloitte USA CEO Joe Ucuzoglu was reportedly especially vocal, following the horror death of Deloitte employee Michelle Go at the hands of a deranged subway pusher last weekend.
Several of the business leaders expressed concern about Bragg’s new policies, which aim to eliminate prison sentences for all but the most serious crimes, downgrade felony charges in certain cases of armed robbery and burglary, and drop charges for many low-level offenses.
‘If I get hit in the head with a baseball bat, will you prosecute?’ one business leader reportedly asked.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has been subjected to a tough grilling from CEOs and business leaders venting their fury over his new policies
Police officers lock down the scene after two NYPD officers were shot in Harlem on January 21, 2022 in New York City. One officer was killed and the other remains in critical condition
One retailer reportedly told Bragg that crime is so bad in Manhattan that he’s installing the same type of security he uses in anarchic Caracas, Venezuela.
Bragg tried to soothe tensions by insisting that public safety was his top priority, but stood by his controversial policies.
The tense meeting comes as New York grapples with soaring violent crime. In 2021, the NYPD recorded 1,562 incidents of gun violence, a 101 percent increase from 2019.
The city recorded 486 murders for the year, a 53 percent increase from 2019.
Bragg’s meeting with business leaders comes after he drafted a crisis PR team and embarked on a mission to repair his reputation, which is battered after only a few weeks in office.
The progressive DA faced another public relations disaster when Patrick Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, blamed his policies for the shooting of two NYPD cops in upper Manhattan. At least one officer died from his injures.
Crime scene units are seen on a closed portion of 135th Street, as members of the New York City Police Department investigate the scene where one officer was shot and killed, and another critically injured while responding to a domestic violence call in Harlem
On Thursday, Bragg apologized for ‘confusion’ over his new policies downgrading many felony charges, but did not back down from his stance despite weeks of criticism.
In remarks on Thursday at an NYU School of Law virtual conference, Bragg blamed poor ‘messaging’ and communication for the backlash over his stance downgrading many charges and declining to seek prison terms for all but the most serious crimes.
‘I take full accountability for that confusion caused by the memo,’ he said of his January 3 policy memo, which drew harsh criticism from NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell, among others.
‘[It] left many New Yorkers justifiably concerned for how we will keep them safe,’ he added, claiming the public was just confused by the dense legalistic language of the memo.
‘I’ve got a lot to learn about comms and messaging,’ Bragg conceded. ‘Lesson learned.’
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has apologized for ‘confusion’ over his new policies downgrading many felony charges, but is not backing down
An eleven-month-old baby sitting in a car was left in critical condition Wednesday after being shot in the face by a stray bullet in the Bronx
New York City is currently experiencing soaring crime rates and an increase in shooting incidents not seen since the mid-2000s
Bragg’s controversial ‘Day One’ policy memo instructed his office to stop prosecuting low-level offenses including marijuana misdemeanors, prostitution, resisting arrest and fare dodging.
He also instructed prosecutors to stop seeking prison sentences for all crimes except for homicides, assaults resulting in serious injury, domestic violence felonies, sex offenses, public corruption, and ‘major economic crimes’.
Aside from the same list of offenses, Bragg’s prosecutors have also been told not to seek bail requirements for suspects awaiting trial.
The memo also outlines a number of circumstances in which charges should be downgraded, including certain cases of armed robbery, burglary and drug dealing.
Bragg confirmed in his remarks on Thursday that his office would not downgrade armed robbery cases in which a firearm is used.
‘Let me be clear,’ he said, ‘any use of a gun to rob a store by definition is and must be and will be treated seriously.’
This clarified language in the memo which called for downgrading robbery cases in which ‘the force or threat of force consists of displaying a dangerous instrument or similar behavior but does not create a genuine risk of physical harm.’
The new policies fulfilled Bragg’s campaign promise to reduce incarceration and pursue progressive prosecutorial policies, but drew sharp backlash from critics who argued that the lenient approach would only encourage crime.
Surveillance video shows a violent altercation in a Bronx bodega. Bragg says that he will not go easy on gun crimes, and that the public is confused about his policies
Newly appointed NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell was the latest opponent to the policy changes, which she said left officers, businesses and the general public vulnerable to crime
Earlier this month, Sewell, the city’s first black female commissioner, sent an email to NYPD officers saying she’s concerned about the effects Bragg’s sweeping changes.
‘I have studied these policies and I am very concerned about the implications to your safety as police officers, the safety of the public and justice for the victims,’ Sewell wrote in the email obtained by the New York Post .
Sewell wrote that among her biggest concerns included Bragg’s refusal to prosecute resisting arrest charges unless they part of a larger felony case.
She feared the decision would ‘invite violence against police officers and will have deleterious effects on our relationship with the communities we protect.’
On Thursday, Bragg faced tough grilling from New York attorneys and the media over his new policies.
‘First, the purpose of the memo is to provide prosecutors with a framework for how to approach cases in the best interest of safety and justice. Each case is fact specific,’ he said.
‘We will be prosecuting all robberies of a gun as a felon. Let me be clear. Any use of a gun to rob a store by definition is and must be and will be treated seriously,’ he insisted.
‘Violence against police officers will not be tolerated,’ Bragg said.
‘If you push or hit an officer or attempt to do so or attempt to harm an officer in another way, you will be prosecuted, held accountable,’ he said. ‘Public safety will be paramount and will always have primacy in my office.’
Meanwhile, Bragg also rolled out an op-ed on Thursday attempting to assuage the public’s fears, insisting that his progressive policies are consistent with public safety.
‘So let me be clear: safety is paramount. My mission as district attorney is keeping every single person in Manhattan safe,’ he wrote in the Amsterdam News.
‘Let me also be crystal clear that there is a lot more to keeping us safe than incarceration. Every person who breaks the law must be held accountable, but accountability does not always mean incarceration,’ he added, defending his progressive approach.
‘These policy changes not only will, in and of themselves, make us safer, they also will free up prosecutorial resources to focus on violent crime,’ wrote Bragg.
ALVIN BRAGG’S MEMO PROMISING NOT TO JAIL CRIMINALS AND ONLY USE PRISON AS A ‘LAST RESORT’