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Bill de Blasio spent his last full day as mayor hosting two separate farewell press conferences and a TV appearance as he prepares to handover New York City which is suffering its worst murder rate in ten years – while hundreds of protesters celebrate the end of his office.
The outgoing mayor had his last day mired by mobs a protesters outside City Hall with anti-de Blasio signs, including a giant banner that read: ‘Buh-bye sh*t head. Thanks for f***ing up our city.’
De Blasio kicked off his farewell tour with an appearance on NBC’s Today Show at 8am, where he discussed his scaled-back plans for the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration. He then held an hour-long COVID-19 press conference around 3pm before hosting another farewell press conference at the Gracie Mansion around 5pm.
De Blasio shared videos of both appearances on Twitter, which were each met by dozens of comments and memes bidding him good riddance and celebrating his departure.
Bill de Blasio hosted two separate farewell press conferences following a morning media appearance on his last full day as mayor. Above, he is addressing the crowd at a 5pm farewell speech at Gracie Mansion
Protesters gathered outside City Hall on Thursday with anti-de Blasio signs, including one reading: Buh-bye sh*t head. Thanks for f***ing up our city’
The outgoing mayor hands control to Eric Adams as the city has its worst murder rate in ten years. Above, protesters cheered to celebrate his leaving
A woman with a ‘MAGA Country’ flag was among a group of right-wing protesters
In the past two weeks leading to his farewell, de Blasio also bestowed keys to the city to nine different honorees.
De Blasio is handing over New York City to Eric Adam with the worst murder rate in ten years, though he has used the pandemic as an excuse for the skyrocketed crime. ‘The last two years have been thrown off by the perfect storm of Covid, there’s no question,’ he said.
The city is on pace to reach 500 murders in the year 2021, something they haven’t recorded in 10 years.
As of Thursday, the city has recorded 481 murders which has been fueled by an increase in gun crime, according to city data.
The last time the city hit 500+ murders was 2011, under then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, when homicides ended up totaling 515.
The rest of the decade had seen a sharp decrease in murders, going down to 419 in 2012 and heading as low as 292 in 2017 under de Blasio.
But the numbers have climbed since, up to 462 in 2020 during the lockdown phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in the city, which also saw stores hit by looting, and riots in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
Those numbers have continued to go up this year, even as the city reopens, and are on pace to hit 10-year highs and the numbers continue to increase of late.
Between November 28 and December 26, homicides were double what they were in the same period last year, with 41 murders compared to 24 in 2020.
Overall, crime has risen 6.13 percent in New York City over 2020 through December 26.
The biggest rise came in felony assaults like the ones previously mentioned, which rose 9.6 percent from 2020.
Murders (4.1 percent), shooting victims (0.6 percent), rapes (3.3 percent), and robberies (4.7 percent) have also risen this year.
De Blasio held an hour-long COVID-19 press conference around 3pm, where he bid farewell before playing Bruce Springsteen’s New York City Serenade
De Blasio and his wife Chirlane McCray greeted supporters during a farewell walk-out ceremony on Thursday at Gracie Mansion
De Blasio hugged first lady Chirlane McCray outside the mayor’s office at City Hall following a walkout ceremony to commemorate his final days in office
Critics point to bail reform laws for the sharp increase in crime. De Blasio supported such reforms in 2019 before even they came in, saying: ‘With the lowest rate of incarceration of any major city, New York City is proving you don’t need to arrest your way to safety.’
Crime has since spiraled out of control, with violent attacks on subways and random assaults in the street happening far more frequently than in the past two years.
In one recent example earlier this month, Craig Tamanaha, 49, the homeless man who set fire the Fox News tree, was back on the streets a day after he was arrested because the charges he was slapped with were so low they didn’t require bond.
He was charged with six counts including arson, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and criminal trespassing. But because of New York City’s soft bail limits, he walked free. All of the charges are misdemeanors, meaning the judge couldn’t set a bail for him.
He was seen on the streets shortly after to wait for his next court date, without any form of mental health support or supervision.
Last month, de Blasio drew fury for blaming the city’s crime issues on its court system. ‘I’ll tell you what’s not working, and this is a profound problem: Our court system. ‘After all the times that we’ve talked about the problems in the court system, we’re still seeing vey little change,’ de Blasio said at his press conference at the time.
A spokesman for the city’s court system slammed de Blasio’s comments in a statement provided to DailyMail.com.
‘Someone should alert the Mayor that Charles Lindbergh made it to Paris, since that would mirror how out of touch the Mayor is regarding activity in the New York Courts,’ said spokesman Lucian Chalfen.
During Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s three terms from 2002 to 2013, New York City enjoyed growth and prosperity – although his stop-and-frisk policy of stopping teens and young men remains controversial. De Blasio campaigned and won on a platform of equality, such as building affordable housing, and a different type of policing and department than Bloomberg.
But following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests of summer 2020, De Blasio slashed $1 billion from the NYPD to the shock and outrage of officers and residents alike.
At the time, shootings in the city had soared by 87 percent in 2020 compared with the same period in 2019.
By August 2020, the head of a New York City police union called on de Blasio to resign. ‘We are WAITING. Only a few hours left until sundown. Give 8 million people a gift & quit. You ruined NYC, Save the City and step down,’ Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins tweeted.
Another failed endeavor De Blasio sunk taxpayers dollars into was the 2015 ThriveNYC project to which he assigned first lady Chirlane McCray. The plan was to revamp and expand the city’s mental health services — despite McCray’s lack of training in the complex fields of psychiatry, psychology and human behavior.
The program burned through about $1.5 billion in taxpayer funds that critics said did not produce measurable results for countless people with mental illnesses.
Crime overall has gone up 6.13 percent in New York City from 2020 through December 26, with felony assaults up nearly 10 percent
The celebration is nearly here. New Year’s Eve revelers prepare for a pared-down celebration due to the surge in Omicron
Meanwhile, de Blasio also refused to cancel the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration to be held on Friday, despite the Omicron variant’s grip on the country and New York City chalking its second day of record infections with 44,000 Big Apple residents testing positive on Thursday.
De Blasio is allowing a pared-down version of 15,000 people to cram into the Crossroads to the World to watch the ball drop.
‘I don’t believe in shutdowns,’ he told the Today show on Thursday. ‘We have to fight our way through this.’ De Blasio’s statement is in sharp contrast to his actions taken during the pandemic, when New York City shut down for months in 2020.
Mayor-elect Eric Adams also doubled down on the New Year’s celebration, announcing that he will hold his swearing-in ceremony during the festivities after canceling his in-person inauguration that was set for Saturday.
But Dr. Michael Osterholm, former advisor of President Biden’s transition team, issued a grim forecast for the country.
‘Over the next three to four weeks, we are going to see the number of cases in this country rise so dramatically that we’ll have a hard time keeping everyday life operating,’ he said on Morning Joe on Thursday.
The statewide infection numbers also hit new highs with 74,000 confirmed cases on a single day.
The U.S. is outpacing the rest of the planet with a single-day world record of 489,267 cases on Thursday, with officials saying a ‘viral blizzard’ could jeopardize the operation of everyday life.
Despite the Omicrons grip on the city, de Blasio refused to cancel the Times Square New Years Eve celebration. A limited 15,000 vaccinated and masked revelers will witness the Times Square ball, comprised of 2,688 Waterford Crystal panels, drop on New Year’s Eve. Normally, 58,000 people are packed into the space
Eric Adams will replace de Blasio, with his swearing in happening at the New Year’s Eve celebration
Already thousands of American flights have been delayed or canceled because of the infection rate.
Many businesses and Broadway shows voluntarily shut down temporarily due to COVID outbreaks, and the virus has also wrecked havoc on municipal employees, with 30 percent of the FDNY’s EMS workers out sick.
The NYPD also cancelled time off for all uniformed officers because of staffing shortages due to COVID.
De Blasio said Thursday that 94% of the city’s public workforce is vaccinated. Adams said 72% of New Yorkers are fully vaccinated.
De Blasio had banned revelers from the Times Square event last year because of COVID-19 infections. His desire to have a large gathering in celebration of the New Year runs counter to advice from health officials.
White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci has called for Americans to have a ‘vaccinated, boosted, home-related’ New Year’s Eve and to avoid large parties with ‘hugging and kissing.’
‘If your plans are to go to a 40- to 50-person New Year’s Eve party with all the bells and whistles and everybody hugging and kissing and wishing each other a happy new year, I would strongly recommend that this year we do not do that,’ the doctor said.
Nevertheless, the show will go on.
‘In order to provide police coverage for New Year’s celebrations in Times Square and for precincts throughout the city, the NYPD has ordered all uniformed members of the service who would regularly be off to report for duty,’ NYPD spokesman Sgt. Edward Riley told DailyMail.com.
Incoming Mayor Adams had said he would hold is swearing-in under the ball to strike a theme of ‘excitement, renewal and hope for the future.’
‘These are the same themes that animated my campaign and will inform my mayoralty, as I prepare to lead the city out of this challenging period,’ he said.
Adams said that the city had been ‘caught off guard’ by the new wave of infections, but his new plan would get try to get ahead of the virus. He lauded de Blasio’s reaction to the pandemic
‘I commend the mayor and his team for what they did getting our city through a very turbulent time in our country.’
Other big U.S. cities, such as Atlanta, have cancelled their public New Year’s Eve events.
The continued winter surge of COVID-19 could ‘threaten the critical infrastructure’ of the country, Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said.
Private urgent care centers CityMD were forced to close 30 clinics this week because they didn’t have enough people to run them.
De Blasio shrugged off the sick-out, saying city employees have been rebounding quickly.
‘What our first responder leadership is saying is look everyone is cycling in and out,’ the mayor told Today on Thursday.
‘We want everyone to be healthy, but what were seeing is very mild, thank god, after five days people are coming right back on. What I want everyone to understand is that this city is very strong, it’s functioning really, really well. We have 94% of our public workforce vaccinated.’