The media’s crime hype and scapegoating led to a crackdown on unhoused people in 2022.

by Julie Hollar, FAIR

For some time now, news media have been conflating crime, homelessness and mental illness, demonizing and dehumanizing people without homes while ignoring the structural causes leading people to sleep on subways and in other public spaces. With New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ latest announcement that he would hospitalize, against their will, unhoused people with mental health conditions—even those deemed to pose no risk to others—in the name of “public safety,” the local papers once again revealed a propensity to highlight official narratives and try to erase their own role in conjuring the crime hysteria that drives such ineffective and pernicious policies.

Adams, who made fighting crime the centerpiece of his 2021 campaign, announced his latest plan on November 29, his latest in a series of pushes to clear unsheltered people from the streets and subways of New York City. It would loosen the current interpretation of state law, which allows police and other city workers to involuntarily hospitalize people with mental illness only when they pose a “serious threat” to themselves or others. Now, Adams declared, those also eligible would include:

Homeless Tent Camps and Homeless People in Los Angeles California. Approximately 60,000 persons may be found homeless on any given night in LA.

The man standing all day on the street across from the building he was evicted from 25 years ago waiting to be let in; the shadow boxer on the street corner in Midtown, mumbling to himself as he jabs at an invisible adversary; the unresponsive man unable to get off the train at the end of the line without assistance from our mobile crisis team.

The next day, the New York Times (11/29/22) put the story on its front page. The article, by Andy Newman and Emma Fitzsimmons, led by conflating homelessness and crime.

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