The riots in New York City last June resulted in tens of millions of dollars in property damage and hundreds of rioters and looters arrested.
In the Bronx alone, there were 118 arrests during the unrest. Many of the vandals and looters were caught on tape — many of their faces were visible. Others posted their exploits on social media.
If this sounds familiar it should. More than 400 rioters who stormed the Capitol building on January 6 have been arrested, largely through facial recognition and social media posts. Dozens of those rioters are facing stiff prison time.
Both acts of violence were political. But only one set of rioters are being punished.
According to an investigation by WNBC, most of the charges in the New York riots were simply dismissed while others were pled down to misdemeanors such as trespassing, which carries no jail time and no restitution.
Since then, the NYPD says the Bronx district attorney and the courts have dismissed most of those cases — 73 in all. Eighteen cases remain open and there have been 19 convictions for mostly lesser counts like trespassing, counts which carry no jail time.
Betancourt, who is also vice president of a local merchants ‘association, called the numbers “disgusting.” She said local business leaders are upset few are being held accountable for the destruction they caused.
And it’s not just the Bronx. Even in upscale Manhattan, justice is not being served.
In Manhattan, much of the looting occurred in the upscale neighborhood of Soho. Amid the Covid pandemic, mobs and organized criminals were taking advantage of huge protests in the city after the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.
The NYPD data shows there were 485 arrests in Manhattan. Of those cases, 222 were later dropped and 73 resulted in convictions for lesser counts like trespassing, which carries no jail time. Another 40 cases involved juveniles and were sent to family court; 128 cases remain open.
A former NYPD Chief of Patrol, Wilbur Chapman, was angry.
“If they are so overworked that they can’t handle the mission that they’re hired for, then maybe they should find another line of work,” Chapman said.
Indeed, with the courts shut down because of the pandemic, prosecutors complained that they were already overworked.
Sources in the DA’s offices in Manhattan and the Bronx said that evidence, in some cases, was simply not strong enough for proof beyond a reasonable doubt. And with the courts closed amid the Covid pandemic, there was a huge backlog of cases that was unwieldy for both the courts and prosecutors.
Justice denied because “backlog was unwieldy.” Sheesh.
The NYPD set up a task force to comb through social media looking for looters and vandals like the FBI did with the 1/6 riot. But unlike federal prosecutors who are nailing many of the rioters to the wall, New York prosecutors are letting the criminals walk.
There was follow-up by the NYPD but the data shows there was none by the courts or prosecutors.
Manhattan DA Cy Vance’s office was worse than a revolving door.
Before dropping a case, Vance told his prosecutors to review defendants’ criminal histories, whether police could really place the suspect at the scene, and whether the individual caused “any damage to the store.”
Vance told his office, “For many of these commercial burglaries, you will be asked to reduce the initial felony charge to a misdemeanor and to dispose of the case … with an eye towards rehabilitation.”
Yeah, that’ll work.
The danger, of course, is that the next time — and you know there’s going to be a next time — the rioters and looters will know that the likelihood of going to jail for their acts is next to zero. That’s a powerful incentive to cause even more damage the next time the outrage mob is on the move.