Crime on the rise?

David Goldsmith

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I wasn't sure whether to put this in one of the "Retail" threads or here.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/30/business/retailers-election-protests.html
Boarded-Up Windows and Increased Security: Retailers Brace for the Election
Stores are making plans for how to deal with potential civil unrest stemming from Tuesday’s election.

Nordstrom, the high-end department store chain, said it planned to board up some of its 350 stores and hire extra security for Election Day on Tuesday. Tiffany & Company, the luxury jeweler, said that “windows of select stores in key cities will be boarded in anticipation of potential election-related activity.” Saks Fifth Avenue said it was “implementing additional security measures at certain locations in the event of civil unrest due to the current election.”
In Beverly Hills, the police said they would take a “proactive approach” and close Rodeo Drive, a renowned strip of luxury retailers, on Tuesday and Wednesday, citing the likelihood of increased “protest activity.” The police, working with private security companies, said they would also be on “full alert” throughout Beverly Hills starting on Halloween and continuing into election week.
The nation is on edge as the bitter presidential contest finally nears an end, the latest flashpoint in a bruising year that has included the pandemic and widespread protests over social justice. Anxiety has been mounting for months that the election’s outcome could lead to civil unrest, no matter who wins. In the retail industry, many companies are not simply concerned about possible mayhem — they are planning for it.
In a show of just how volatile the situation seems to the industry, 120 representatives from 60 retail brands attended a video conference this week hosted by the National Retail Federation, which involved training for store employees on how to de-escalate tensions among customers, including those related to the election. The trade group also hired security consultants who have prepped retailers about which locations around the country are likely to be the most volatile when the polls close.

“I am 50-plus years old, and I didn’t think I would live to see this,” said Shane Fernett, who owns a contracting business in Colorado Springs and has been stocking up on plywood to board up his retail customers. “You read about this in third-world countries, not America.”

For the retail industry, 2020 has been filled with bankruptcies, store closures and plummeting sales as tens of millions of Americans struggled with job losses because of the pandemic. Protests over police violence against Black citizens sent millions of people into the streets, demonstrations that in some cases devolved into the looting and burning of stores in a number of cities. Worries about unrest around the election have been fanned by President Trump, who has declined to say whether he would agree to a peaceful transfer of power if his Democratic challenger, Joseph R. Biden Jr., is victorious.
Protests flared again this week after Walter Wallace Jr., a Black man with mental health issues who was carrying a knife, was killed by the police in Philadelphia. That set off looting and clashes with the police in parts of the city. Citing the civil unrest in Philadelphia, Walmart said on Thursday that it was removing all of its firearms and ammunition from its sales floors across the country. On Friday, Walmart said it was returning guns to the sales floor, after determining that the incidents of unrest “have remained geographically isolated.”

This year, businesses have already sustained at least $1 billion in insured losses from looting and vandalism largely set off by the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May, according to one estimate cited by the Insurance Information Institute, an industry group.

It is on target to be the most costly period of civil unrest in history, likely surpassing damages during the 1992 riots in Los Angeles and many of the civil rights protests of the late 1960s.

The situation in 2020 has drawn comparisons to protests in the 1960s, but Derek Hyra, an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University, said recent unrest had been more geographically widespread, affecting a wider swath of businesses.

“Most of the rioting and burning in the 1960s happened within the geography of low-income Black spaces,” Mr. Hyra said. “In the 2020 unrest, more of it happened in downtown and affluent areas.
“It’s not just urban America,” he added. “The protests have been in the suburbs, they’ve been in rural areas.”
Protecting properties from potential damage is not a simple decision. Retailers can risk alienating their customers by erecting plywood, particularly if the anticipated unrest does not materialize.

“You are sending a message when you do that,” Stephanie Martz, general counsel of the National Retail Federation, said. “You don’t want to necessarily engage in this kind of grim forecasting.”

Some companies aren’t taking chances — the iconic Macy’s location in Manhattan’s Herald Square was boarded up on Friday. But other large businesses are keeping their plans vague.
Target, with about 1,900 stores, said in a statement, “Like many businesses, we’re taking precautionary steps to ensure safety at our stores, including giving our store leaders guidance on how to take care of their teams.”
A spokesman for CVS, which operates nearly 10,000 stores, said: “Our local leadership teams are empowered to take steps that they determine will best support the safety of our stores, employees and customers. This includes the option to board select store locations.”

Gap Inc., with more than 2,000 stores in North America, said it had “contingency plans set in place for any issues that may arise and will continue to monitor the situation carefully and closely next week.”
Behind the scenes, though, many businesses are making explicit preparations.

A beauty supply store in North Philadelphia was damaged after widespread looting this week.Credit...Victor J. Blue for The New York Times
Tom Buiocchi, who runs an online platform called ServiceChannel, which connects retailers with local contractors in cities across the country, said more than 500 stores had filled out work orders to board up or take other protective measures ahead of the election.
He said he had discussions this week with a group of luxury retailers who were reluctant about being the first ones to take any visible precautions. “No one wants to be the only one boarding up in a community; it can be off brand,” Mr. Buiocchi said.

Some retailers have debated whether erecting boards would make them more of a target. Others are taking steps like purchasing different screws for the plywood from the ones they used in June, hoping to thwart looters with screw guns. The costs of boarding up businesses can range from a few hundred dollars to $31,000 for large department stores with display windows.
For the stores that stay open through election night and the uncertain days that could follow, their workers will again be thrust into a volatile situation. Already, retail employees are faced with the potential for violence in trying to ensure that customers wear masks to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Election week could pose more dangers.
The training offered by the retail federation was originally meant to help workers defuse tense situations around mask wearing by advising employees to make nonthreatening eye contact and speak with empathy, said Ms. Martz, the group’s top lawyer.

The police said they would be on “full alert” throughout Beverly Hills starting on Halloween and continuing into election week.

She acknowledged that there could be added danger for workers on Tuesday night because the police are likely to be stretched thin if there are protests. “People are so divided, and it is such a tinderbox,” Ms. Martz said.
It is all a stark reminder of just how tense the country’s political situation is.
“Maybe in other countries, protest and chaos is more commonly understood around the transfer of power like a presidential election or a prime minister,” said Professor Hyra of American University. But in the United States, “there has been such a clear understanding that we live in a democracy and whoever wins the Electoral College, there is a peaceful transfer of power.”
Mr. Fernett, the contractor in Colorado, said he had recently purchased a two-year supply of plywood and two-by-four planks at the request of fretful retailers.
He is taking his own precautions. He has removed the name of his business, Jack of All Trades, from his company trucks, and is requiring that his technicians work in pairs next week for their own safety.

“Our local lumber yard asked what’s going on, why such a big order,” Mr. Fernett said. “I said, ‘We think all hell is going to break loose.’ That’s why we are stocking up. I hope we don’t need to use it.”

Saks Fifth Avenue said it was “implementing additional security measures at certain locations in the event of civil unrest due to the current election.”Credit...Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
 

David Goldsmith

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8-Year-Old Girl Among Three People Shot And Injured Outside Harlem Supermarket

An 8-year-old girl was among three bystanders shot and injured outside of a Harlem supermarket on Saturday evening, according to the NYPD.
About 7 p.m. on Saturday, police officers responded to a 911 call about a person shot outside of the Fine Fare Supermarket on Lenox Avenue between West 116th and 117th streets, the NYPD said.
Officers found a 33-year-old woman shot in the right arm, who was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, the department said in a release. Two others were shot at that location and were treated at the hospital—a 39-year-old man with injuries on his right arm, and an 8-year-old girl who was shot in the right knee, according to NYC Health + Hospitals. All three were in stable condition, according to the NYPD.
ABC7 reported the 39-year-old man and the child were a father and daughter trick-or-treating as a family, with another child who was uninjured during the incident.

The police department believes that all of the victims were unintended targets. No arrests have been made.
According to the police department, just before the shooting, two men were seen arguing with each other. The argument escalated into a gunfight, each shooting at each other, when stray bullets struck the three victims, the NYPD said.
Police are looking for a man around 20- to 30-years-old seen in surveillance footage wearing a green and black jacket—who they believe was the man who injured the three victims. The second man is around the same age and was seen in a dark baseball cap.

Shootings have been rising in the city this year as the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred mass job loss and disruption to people's daily lives, killing more than 24,000 people in New York City alone. Shooting incidents in 2020 have nearly doubled compared to last year, from 653 to 1,276 , according to police statistics as of October 25th. The number of people injured or killed in shootings also rose—776 at this time last year to 1,569 so far in 2020, stats show.
The latest statistics for the entire month of October have not yet been released by the department. In September, there were 152 shooting incidents, compared to 67 in September 2019—a 127% rise.
Community activists working to halt shootings have called for more resources for cure violence groups, a part of the city's crisis management system that aim to mediate conflicts before gun violence erupts. Police leaders have blamed bail reform and efforts to release incarcerated individuals from jail early to mitigate coronavirus outbreaks in jails, though both those explanations have not been backed up by data.
The uptick in shootings has been seen across the country this year. The New York Times reported last week that some researchers have tied the rise to coronavirus stresses, as more people seek out guns, and community programs mitigating violence have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.
 

David Goldsmith

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NYC gun arrests increase by 102%, shooting incidents by 121% compared to October of last year, NYPD says
There were 137 shooting incidents and 502 gun arrests in New York City in October, increases of 121% and 102%, respectively, over the same month last year, according to the NYPD's latest crime statistics report.
In October, gun arrests increased in every borough compared to last October, the NYPD said.
For the year-to-date, there have been 1,299 shooting incidents, a 93.9% increase over the same period in 2019, and 3,308 gun arrests, a 15% increase over that period last year.

Burglaries and auto thefts were up for October by 32.2% and 78.7%, respectively, compared to October 2019, the NYPD said. Murders dropped, from 36 in October 2019 to 35 this October.
Overall citywide, reported hate crimes have declined 34% compared to this time last year (from 359 to 237), but there have been at least 24 Covid-19-related hate crimes.
The NYPD says that "there are primarily two motivating factors behind those crimes: The victim's race (Anti-Asian) and the perception that they have Coronavirus."
 

David Goldsmith

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Man stabbed in Midtown hours after two other nearby knife attacks
A man was stabbed at the corner of 34th street and 8th avenue in Manhattan.William Farrington
A man was fighting for his life after being stabbed in the middle of 34th Street early Sunday — just blocks from where a 39-year-old man was stabbed to death outside a pizza joint in one of two knife attacks hours earlier.

The latest victim, a 51-year-old man, was left in a pool of blood in the major Manhattan street at the intersection with 8th Avenue after a fight at around 8:30 a.m., police sources said.

“I heard a scream and then saw a guy running toward the subway,” witness Seka Quina, 23, from Brooklyn, told The Post.

“Then others started running. I turned and saw the guy on the ground bleeding — a lot. It looked bad,” Quina said.

The victim was taken to Bellevue hospital in serious condition, police said.

Sunday’s attack was just four blocks from where a man was stabbed to death late Saturday outside a 2 Bros Pizza takeout spot, with another stabbing late Saturday on a train pulling in to Grand Central.

Sources identified Ronald Massaro, 39, as the victim killed in the 2 Bros attack after being stabbed in the chest after a fight with another man. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The killer fled north up 8th Avenue from the pizza joint at 38th Street, police said. A suspect — identified by sources as Lawrence Downey, 52 — was later arrested and charged with second-degree murder, sources said.

About an hour after that attack, a subway rider — identified by sources as Luis Andino, 53 — was slashed in the face after a fight with two men that started on a downtown 4 train and spilled out onto the platform when it pulled into Grand Central station.

Benigno Perez, 37, was arrested on suspicion of assault, while the suspected knifeman was still at large, sources said.
 

David Goldsmith

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David Goldsmith

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A Late-Night Robbery is the Latest Pandemic Setback for B&H Dairy

After months of pandemic-related difficulties, decades-old East Village restaurant B&H Dairy faced another setback this week. At approximately 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning, a thief broke into the beloved restaurant and made off with its cash register. Local blog EV Grieve first reported news of the break-in.

“We are so sad that someone steal register [sic] and broke the door of B&H,” the owners shared in a post on Facebook. “God help us.” In the post, the owners shared a photograph of the deli’s front window, which contains a fist-sized hole, presumably used to unlock the front door and steal the register. Following the break-in, restaurant co-owner Ola Abdelwahed found the empty cash register on the corner of East Seventh Street, where the thief apparently destroyed and discarded the machine. In total $500 was stolen from the restaurant, Abdelwahed tells local blog Bowery Boogie.
The robbery is the latest in a series of hurdles for the old-school kosher restaurant, which opened its doors on Second Avenue in 1938. Earlier in the pandemic, co-owners Ola and Fawzy Abdelwahed shared that the restaurant “went from serving 200 customers a day in March, to zero customers, and therefore zero income for a full two months.” When the restaurant reopened in May, the Abdelwaheds started accepting credit cards and serving their food through third-party delivery apps — two firsts for the restaurant — but those measures only increased their customers to about 50 per day, a mere 25 percent of their pre-coronavirus sales.

“It’s always something, but B&H never give up,” Ola Abdelwahed said in a video posted the morning after the robbery. “We are here for you guys, okay?” By 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday afternoon, the restaurant had reopened its doors for delivery.
 

David Goldsmith

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NYPD, MTA probing $500,000 copper wire theft from Union Square station, Broadway subway line

Around $500,000 worth of copper wire was stolen from a stretch of Manhattan subway beneath Broadway from Union Square to Midtown, officials said Friday.

An estimated 38,000 feet of wire was ripped off walls and and stolen from spools inside the Union Square station and up the N/R tracks to W. 36th St., MTA officials and police said.

An overheating electrical substation in the Union Square station led officials to discover the missing wire on Oct. 23, police said. It was not clear to police sources if the wire had been installed, or was waiting to be installed.

The MTA was still working to figure out how the copper was stolen, said sources.

“As soon as it was determined that copper wire was missing from tunnel areas, we launched an internal review and have notified the NYPD and MTA inspector general,” MTA spokesperson Tim Minton said.

“We take this matter very seriously and will cooperate fully with the independent investigations into what occurred,” Minton said.
 

David Goldsmith

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'Sliwa said his volunteers soon learned there were other problems in the neighborhood, including a “corridor of misery, despair, and crime” on 20th and 21st Streets, between 7th and 8th Avenues, where “people are selling drugs, shooting up. . .emotionally disturbed.” '
Isn't that the location of the 10th Precinct?

‘Corridor of misery, despair and crime’: Guardian Angels patrol NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood

The Guardian Angels have begun patrolling Chelsea — the third Manhattan neighborhood the crime-prevention group has descended upon this year.
“These are places, if you would have ever suggested years ago they need Guardian Angels, they would have said, ‘You’re out of your mind.’ Well now they do,” said founder Curtis Sliwa.
Sliwa and other volunteers began walking the Chelsea area Sept. 29, not long after police said a grocery store manager was viciously attacked there by a deranged homeless man, ABC 7 reported.
Ramon Acevedo, 64 was opening the 25th Street store July 23 when Oscar Apronti, 27, suddenly swung a hammer at Acevedo’s head, police said.

Sliwa said his volunteers soon learned there were other problems in the neighborhood, including a “corridor of misery, despair, and crime” on 20th and 21st Streets, between 7th and 8th Avenues, where “people are selling drugs, shooting up. . .emotionally disturbed.”
More than 100 hotels in the city have taken in homeless shelter residents this year to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The once-family-friendly Upper West Side was also plagued by an influx of hotel-shelter residents who slept on the street, shot up and defecated in broad daylight, prompting Sliwa’s volunteers to begin patrolling there this summer.
Earlier this week, the Guardian Angels announced its volunteers would also begin canvassing the Upper East Side.
 
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