New York, NY – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday said that New York Police Department (NYPD) officers should confront people who say mean or offensive things even if their conduct isn’t criminal.
De Blasio made the remarks during a press conference on March 18 when the subject of hate crimes and a discrimination against Asian Americans in New York City was brought up, WLNY reported.
The mayor encouraged those who felt they were victims of discrimination or hate speech to report it to the police.
“We need to know about it immediately,” de Blasio told reporters.
The mayor said there needed to be consequences for those who would perpetrate such crimes.
“I think we all can do more,” he said.
Then de Blasio went on to say that NYPD officers should begin confronting people to tell them they said or did something “hurtful.”
“I also think even if something is not a criminal case, a perpetrator being confronted by the city, whether it’s NYPD or another agency, and being told that what they’ve done was very hurtful to another person — and could, if ever repeated, lead to criminal charges — that’s another important piece of the puzzle. That’s why we need these reports,” de Blasio told reporters.
He reinforced that a matter didn’t have to be a crime for an NYPD officer to intervene.
“The NYPD is a great example: one of the things officers are trained to do is to give warnings,” de Blasio said. “If someone has done something wrong, but not rising to a criminal level, it’s perfectly appropriate for an NYPD officer to talk to them to say, ‘that was not appropriate, and if you did that on a higher level, that would be a crime.’ I think that has an educating impact on people.”
“I think it has a sobering impact that we need. That’s why we need every report. If something might be a crime, NYPD is going to investigate,” the mayor promised.
He went on to say that he thought it would make people think twice before saying or doing something that could be hurtful or offensive when police show up on their doorstep about it.
De Blasio said his administration was currently working to broaden the definition of what would qualify as hate crimes in the city.
The mayor also told reporters that he was instructing NYPD to widen their tracking of hate crimes.
This is not the first time that New York City lawmakers have walked a line that crossed over into suppressing free speech.
In September of 2019, The New York City Commission on Human Rights announced guidance on what exactly would be considered derogatory use of certain terminology based on the user’s motivations, FOX News reported.
“Threatening to call ICE when motivated by discrimination, derogatory use of the term ‘illegal alien,’ and discrimination based on limited English proficiency are unlawful discriminatory treatment under the NYC Human Rights Law,” the commission wrote.
“Fines of up to $250,000 can be assessed for each act of willful discrimination, and damages are available to complainants,” according to a press release from the commission.
Critics quickly jumped on social media to declare the new law an attack on the First Amendment.
The city’s Commission on Human Rights has a track record of attacking free speech and has previously banned landlords and employers from using pronouns other than what their tenants and employees preferred, FOX News reported.
Violations of that guidance also cost the perpetrator as much as $250,000 in fines.