MSNBC host and civil-rights activist Al Sharpton on Tuesday morning pushed back on the notion that rising violent crime in New York City has been overstated, claiming it does feel “more unsafe” in the city. Defunding the police, the reverend added, is something “latte liberals” in “the Hamptons” support and treat like an “academic problem.”
During Tuesday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, co-host Willie Geist disputed the narrative that New York has become more dangerous this summer, claiming he continues to feel safe while around town. Host Joe Scarborough, meanwhile, credited former Mayor Rudy Giuliani for reducing crime in the city before noting that many of his friends are telling him how “dangerous” NYC has become.
“I don’t feel it,” Geist replied. “But there are people that feel it and are hesitant to go out alone at night. You read the headlines and, yes, there is truth in the headlines but if you look at the statistics of violent crime, it’s not up. But there are people that are going to leave the city, that’s true.”
While Geist conceded that shootings and murder were up in the city this year, he said that people moving out of New York will ultimately be temporary and that people will be back.
Scarborough then turned to Sharpton, asking the National Action Network founder if he feels the city is starting to “fray at the edges.”
Pointing out that this is a “tale of two cities” and that he comes from the side that is “blacker and poorer,” Sharpton brought up a mass shooting in Brooklyn over the Labor Day weekend.
“So I would say statistically we’re not much higher than we were,” he added. “But on the ground it is certainly feeling more violent, feeling more unsafe, in unsafe communities, if you know what I mean. I’m talking about communities where we were somewhat having to deal with more crime, it feels more, in many ways, dangerous.”
At the same time, Sharpton claimed that he doesn’t think hyperbolic headlines over the violence “are exactly right,” saying media outlets “embellish it.” He also stated that the pandemic has contributed to this “worse feeling” in the city.
Scarborough then brought up the calls for defunding the police by progressives and activists, wondering aloud if the slashing of the New York Police Department’s police budget by $1 billion has disproportionately impacted people of color.
“I’ve said, and you and I have discussed this, we need to reimagine how we do policing,” Sharpton replied. “We are in the areas where—that is inundated with guns, that has this serious problems of ours—of people being given guns that can’t even get a summer program.”
“To take all policing off is something I think a latte liberal may go for as they sit around the Hamptons discussing this as some academic problem,” he concluded. “But people living on the ground need proper policing. Yes, we need more resources in different areas like mental health. But we do not need our grandmothers [to be] prey to those that are being the users of products of the big gun manufacturers in this country.”