As leaders from Hunts Point and Longwood gathered Tuesday night for a vigil for two officers hospitalized in a two-day shooting spree that ended at the 41st precinct station house, elected officials blasted anti-police rhetoric, saying it had no place in their neighborhood.
“We are not going to let a few individuals who are anti-government come into our community,” City Councilman Rafael Salamanca said briskly. “You are not welcome here. We stand with the NYPD, and they stand with our community.”
In one of his first public speeches following the Feb. 7-8 shootings, Captain Jeremy Scheublin, commanding officer for the 41st Precinct, thanked the residents for their support. Roughly 50 residents and a dozen police officers attended the vigil.
“Nothing about this incident is representative of this community, or the 4-1 precinct,” Scheublin said to applause. “They chose the wrong precinct, and they chose the wrong community.”
City Councilman Ruben Diaz, Sr. wasted no time placing blame on newly minted statewide bail reforms, which he claimed will only embolden criminals, and encourage them to reoffend.
“The laws that that Albany has been passing, and the things they’ve been doing, take power away from the police,” Diaz said following the vigil. “We’ve got to stand by the police by making new laws.”
The bail reform law passed last year has come under immense scrutiny by many district attorneys across the city and the police officers’ union, who say it emboldens criminals to commit further crimes.
The new law allows individuals who commit certain nonviolent offenses to be released from police custody with a desk appearance ticket to await their trial instead of being held in jail.
Robert Williams, who was accused of firing 10 shots inside the Longwood Avenue police precinct, is being held in jail without bond and is expected to remain throughout the duration of his trial.
In interviews with prosecutors, Williams said he was “tired of police,” and that his attack was specifically intended to target NYPD officers.
Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested that anti-police protests that occurred across the city over the last several months were partially to blame for Williams attack.
“Anyone who is spewing this kind of hatred toward our officers is aiding and abetting this kind of atmosphere. It’s not acceptable,” de Blasio said immediately following the shooting, referring to protests held in response to the hiring of 500 new police officers to crack down on fare evasion in the subway.
Nearly a dozen persons were arrested at the most recent protest, on Jan. 31 at Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. Charges included destroying subway turnstiles, police said.