After seeing his beloved metropolis disintegrate amid COVID-19 and rising crime, JASON CURTIS ANDERSON, 39, poured out his coronary heart in a Medium put up that was broadly circulated on native Fb teams. Right here is an expanded model of that essay:
Had you met me slightly greater than a 12 months in the past you’d have met a person having the time of his life. Again then, I was the digital advertising and marketing director for SUNY colleges, the place I principally produced movies and labored on displays. The 2019 model of me often awakened 10 minutes earlier than my alarm clock went off, excited to begin my day, and infrequently went to sleep feeling a way of accomplishment. I had lastly organized all of the little particulars of my NYC life in such a means the place I didn’t need to change a factor.
In 2020, having front-row seats to watch town that by no means sleeps get introduced to its knees is an expertise I wouldn’t want on my worst enemy. Many individuals declare issues weren’t that dangerous right here, they usually’re entitled to write their very own opinion items. Though, I can’t think about an article about how nice life in NYC was this 12 months being very fascinating — or very trustworthy. Even Jerry Seinfeld wrote his protection of New York from the security of his compound within the Hamptons, not the Higher West Facet. We’ll simply have to agree to disagree.
I was born in Sleepy Hole and grew up in Westchester, but have lived in NYC all of my maturity, spending the final decade just some blocks from Chelsea Market. As an individual who was within the West Village on the morning of 9/11, I am no stranger to tragedy. I had a automobile again then, and tried to escape Manhattan that day by way of the West Facet Freeway. The one vehicles heading towards downtown that day have been police vehicles, army, and firemen from different states and cities. These courageous heroes drove full velocity right into a metropolis underneath assault as the remainder of us fled what would later be referred to as the darkest day of our lives.
This 12 months feels completely different although. 2020 was like watching a horrible play, but one the place nobody is aware of what number of acts there might be. There appeared to be no level in watching dystopian films about pandemics or a brand new episode of “Black Mirror,” as a result of we have been residing in it.
As COVID-19 settled into its new residence in NYC, my native espresso store closed, my fitness center shuttered, I misplaced my job at SUNY, and the whole lot I beloved was quickly put “on pause.” A time period that 9 months later now seems like a merciless joke. None of us knew what we have been going through again in March, or how lengthy it could final. The streets grew to become quiet, town grew to become nonetheless. All of the sounds, the acquainted faces, the busy eating places, the every day rituals, the very tempo of our existence slowed to a full cease. The silence was deafening.
The homeless and mentally ailing flourished in my Chelsea neighborhood in a single day. Many residents fled our beloved metropolis to safer suburbs and second properties. After an evening within the West Village the place I noticed males looting vehicles, and a gunpoint theft occur by the West 4th practice station, I not felt snug right here. I determined that I couldn’t abide the lawlessness and my first pandemic on the similar time, so I spent the primary wave of the pandemic upstate in a visitor room at my household’s home, the place at the very least I didn’t have to fear in regards to the crime.
After spending three months in quarantine upstate, I determined it was time to begin placing my NYC life again collectively. The thought of struggling via this time with my closest buddies felt like a step in the proper course. Even when we didn’t have our bars and eating places for an undetermined period of time, at the very least we’d have one another.
I imagined my summer season could be crammed with lengthy walks, bike rides on the West Facet Freeway, and small gatherings on rooftops. I imagined we’d recover from COVID and that the power of town would come again slowly over the following six months. I was optimistic, beloved my metropolis and beloved my life right here with all my coronary heart. I hopefully assumed most New Yorkers had the identical emotions I did. After which the riots occurred.
The darkish tone of every day life right here now appears everlasting. For months after the riots, shops in my space have been nonetheless being burglarized. The helicopters have been so shut they’d shake my top-floor condo all night time. In peak summer season there have been all the time two or three homeless folks on either side of each road in my space. Each side of my life grew to become about avoiding them and staying far sufficient away from anybody who would possibly assault me. Somebody broke into my constructing one night time but fled after they unintentionally set off the alarm on the roof. The entire summer season felt like residing in a warfare zone.
Relationship used to be a pleasure for me, but throughout my summer season in Chelsea there have been so many stabbings and robberies inside one block of my condo, I not felt snug planning that concerned assembly anyplace. I’d stroll to get espresso within the morning and get harassed and threatened by homeless folks day-after-day.
Six months after NYC’s first wave of riots, I was clearly flawed about my hopes of returning to the fast-paced but fantastic life that I as soon as beloved. I sublet my condo and have been staying with family and friends ever since.
Sadly, the worst components of 2020 now all appear to be the brand new regular: homeless folks wandering the streets, companies closed, rampant crime, protests, riots, random acts of violence, harmful subways. The day I moved out of my Chelsea condo, I was packing the final of my belongings when a homeless man lower somebody’s throat in a parking storage lower than one block away.
It offends me when folks inform me to toughen up and that NYC has all the time had crime. This isn’t regular, and we shouldn’t be downplaying the drastic adjustments in public security we’re all experiencing. Individuals getting shot in Grand Central Station will not be regular. Strolling by a retailer in Flatiron because it will get robbed at four p.m. on a Monday will not be regular. A 1-year-old child being shot and killed in a stroller will not be regular. Our most secure neighborhoods now turning into harmful for the primary time in 30 years will not be regular.
As an individual determined for solutions, I took to Twitter to see what different residents have been saying about life in NYC.
What I discovered was New Yorkers of all backgrounds, desperately crying for assist relating to quality-of-life points. It appears many people agree that the streets are not protected, and that the homeless-hotel offers convey crime to what have been as soon as protected neighborhoods. Random acts of violence occur every day, commuters are pushed in entrance of subways frequently, and irrespective of how loud we yell about our new societal issues, our elected leaders don’t appear to hear us.
What’s fascinating about this group of New Yorkers is that they don’t seem to be Web trolls, but a various group starting from younger adults to senior residents, from property house owners to writers, a few of whom appear to know the inside workings of politics prefer it’s their job.
For the final six months I’ve watched this group of involved residents beg our mayor and the Metropolis Council for assistance on Twitter day-after-day. Individuals started forming teams primarily based upon common sense themes like @FidiResidents or @SaferStreetsNY and tried their greatest to elevate consciousness about crime and homelessness with Metropolis Council members like Helen Rosenthal and Ben Kallos. All of which is totally ignored apart from the events the place somebody will get scolded for not being delicate sufficient to the wants of the homeless.
Simply the opposite day, I requested Metropolis Council member Stephen Levin what he considered bare homeless folks wandering our streets, together with some photographs of homeless folks having intercourse in public. To which he responded, “So far as I can see, these folks aren’t doing something to be undeserving of my kindness or yours,” and “How are you aware they’re homeless?”
That’s the sort of management we at the moment have. How is it OK for homeless folks to be having intercourse in subway stations or on Broadway and 78th Avenue? Why do I even have to ask these questions?
If there was ever a time when our metropolis desperately wanted management, it was these final 9 months. Through the course of the summer season I watched all of Mayor de Blasio’s press briefings in shock as he failed to handle the rising crime, homelessness, and different urgent points. I would ask myself: “How are you going to anticipate folks to pay their payments whereas not permitting companies to reopen? How do you anticipate folks to pay NYC hire when so many individuals misplaced their jobs?”
It grew to become clear over time that none of my questions would ever be answered.
In the meantime, his spouse posts a video of herself dancing on the steps of Gracie Mansion whereas mentally ailing folks have taken over New York. Isn’t the psychological well being of NYC supposed to be her specialty? Day-after-day right here is like “The Joker” film.
Carjackings are again; road prostitutes are again. Final week, I took the subway for the primary time since March and it was crammed with heroin addicts screaming at one another. It’s been nearly a 12 months and I don’t know a single one who’s snug strolling residence after 9 p.m. That’s the place we’re at.
The messages that do come from our Metropolis Council appear to fall into pretty predictable classes of empty platitudes, systemic racism, weighing in on nationwide politics, Trump, anti-police rhetoric, or no matter initiatives they have been engaged on that in some way all bought prioritized over public security, a shattered economic system, and a divided folks.
The continuing dialogue between what I have nicknamed “The Sane Heart” and our far-left progressive politicians reads just like the script of “Groundhog Day.” Our legislators keep away from answering quality-of-life questions in any respect prices, and infrequently they throw us a nonanswer that reads alongside the traces of, “Extra policing can’t be the reply to the whole lot,” which helps precisely nobody.
Whereas our legislators declare to care about our black and brown neighborhoods essentially the most, these exact same neighborhoods have really suffered the worst uptick in violent crime and gang shootings within the final 12 months. So how precisely are we serving to them?
I don’t know who wants to hear this, but I don’t need to examine politicians’ beliefs and values anymore. I need to examine rock-solid coverage, plans, timelines, and actions to remedy our most severe issues. Now will not be the time for the “I Have A Dream” speeches. If our legislators don’t get their act collectively quickly, we gained’t have a metropolis left to save.
If life in some way manages to get again to “regular” inside an inexpensive quantity of years, it’s not going to be due to bail reform and prosecutors who assume charging criminals is racist. Being lenient on the homeless individuals who have taken over our streets and subways will not be going to convey our beloved metropolis again, irrespective of what number of likes and retweets your noble aspirations obtain.
Progress on these points is just going to come when our leaders really prioritize town’s most essential issues. A brand new park does town no good if it’s not protected to take the practice there, or stroll residence from at night time. I perceive that being a public servant is commonly a thankless job. I simply fear that our present elected leaders usually are not really the proper folks for this job — as they have already confirmed by ignoring these issues for a complete 12 months.