Who Says Democrats are Soft on Crime? | Opinion

Frank Abrokwa is the repeat offender who, to the shock of many, was released after smearing his own feces on the face of a woman waiting in a Bronx subway station. Apparently, nothing on his long rap sheet required bail under New York State's bail reform laws.

My friend Don expressed outrage on Abrokwa's revolving door and urged me to write about it. Don is a mainstream liberal, as are the Democratic masses in our big cities who are voting for law and order.

Not that this reality seeps through the cracks on right-wing media. They persist in lumping the Democratic Party with a fringe element on the far left. Thus, you keep hearing about "the left" being angry over efforts to take the homeless and some criminals off the streets. That this anger is directed mainly at Democratic officials should tell the media something. Progressive cities chose these leaders, so exactly how important are those fringes?

And it's not just the right. POLITICO thrives on putting conflict in every headline, as do allegedly liberal news sources unable to take their focus off colorful left-wingers who amplify their presence by attacking fellow Democrats. There's a reason why Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gets so much press while accomplishing so little—aside from showing off.

A police officer sits in her car
A police officer sits in her car in Harlem. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Back on the city streets, poll after poll shows Democrats viewing crime as problem No. 1. And the polls that most matter—the ones on Election Day—confirm it. Former police captain Eric Adams, the law-and-order Democrat in the New York City's mayoral race, easily won. A recent Marist survey found that 61 percent of registered voters approved of Adams' performance—while 40 percent of that tough urban audience said he was doing a good or excellent job.

Adams said that as a young Black man, he was subjected to police brutality. He understands that some people shouldn't be cops. He also understands that his people need good policing. Some of his strongest support comes from low-income neighborhoods bearing the brunt of crime. When Adams called himself the new "face of the Democratic Party," he was not wrong. And that's good for the Democratic Party.

Other new faces belong to new mayors Bruce Harrell in Seattle and London Breed in San Francisco. Breed backed the expulsion of ludicrously woke school board members who dragged their feet on reopening schools.

Harrell was elected by a large margin on his promise to remove Seattle's homeless encampments. He's doing it, sending the inhabitants to shelters and social services.

Which brings up the intersection of lawlessness and social dysfunction. A Boston University poll found that city leaders across the country were most concerned with deteriorating mental health as a consequence of the pandemic.

Story after tabloid story bears this out. The homeless man who pushed an Asian woman onto the tracks in front of a moving New York City subway train had been in and out of jails and mental hospitals. Many of the apparent hate crimes directed against Asians (and others), if you read down, are committed by mentally ill people. Same applies to a variety of weird cases, like the "art lover" who stabbed two employees at the Museum of Modern Art.

Calls for building mental health services should be heeded. The growing consensus, though, is that social workers can help police but can't replace them.

Go ahead and treat mentally ill people, Adams said in a statement after the feces incident. But, he went on, there must be changes to the law regarding those who engage in violence. The law must "keep people who are clearly a danger to others off the street."

Don, this one was for you.

Froma Harrop is an award-winning journalist, author and syndicated columnist.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.