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De Blasio, O’Neill outraged over feds’ sanctuary city threat

In a fiery rebuke, Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill criticized the Trump administration Friday for asserting that New York City was “soft on crime” and awash in gang murders.

“It is unacceptable, it is outrageous and it is absurd,” de Blasio said at a hastily called news conference.

O’Neill recounted how violent crime rates, including homicides, have dropped dramatically in the city over the past two decades.

He and de Blasio were reacting to a Justice Department statement released earlier in the day that asserted that “New York City continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city’s ‘soft on crime’ stance.”

The statement came after the agency sent letters to New York and other “sanctuary cities,” threatening to withhold federal funds due to noncooperation with immigration authorities.

De Blasio, addressing President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, said: “If you believe this statement is accurate, come here to New York City, look our police officers in the eye and tell them you believe they are soft on crime. See how that feels.”

Ian D. Prior, principal deputy director of public affairs at the Justice Department, said in response: “As made very clear in the department’s release, it is New York City’s policies that are soft on crime.”

But Sessions later praised the city’s crime-fighting efforts.

“New York has done some great things in criminal justice; they are following policies that have proven to reduce crime in America,” he said. “We have a disagreement with the mayor over sanctuary city policies.”

Last year, the city had the fewest serious felonies in the modern era of record-keeping — notching less than 1,000 shootings for the first time. There were 2,245 homicides in 1989, compared with 335 last year, statistics show.

With The Washington Post

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