NY mayor touts new NYPD anti-gun unit in tweet of Bronx mom and baby held at gunpoint

NY mayor touts new NYPD anti-gun unit in tweet of Bronx mom and baby held at gunpoint
The rollout of the specialised police force has not been welcomed in all corners of the city

New York Mayor Eric Adams tweeted out a disturbing video that showed the armed robbery of a mother in the Bronx with her 3-year-old son only a stretched-arm away, in an apparent attempt to garner support for the politician’s recently launched anti-gun unit.

In the 9 March video, Maxie Feliz, 35, can be seen walking down the stairs towards the lobby of her Bronx apartment before an armed gunman approaches her and forces his hands over her mouth to prevent her from screaming out for help. Her son, Max, who the New York Post reported is autistic, remains clutching his mother’s hand as the two masked and hooded assailants rifle through Ms Feliz’s handbag.

“​​Mother and baby held at gun point during a recent robbery,” the New York mayor captioned the tweet on Monday. “And a small group of people in this city are asking why we put an anti-gun unit in place.”

The video footage does not appear to be the same as the CCTV footage released by the NYPD last week that included images of the suspects they were looking for, but notably did not include the vulnerable scenes of the mother being held up with her young son.

Earlier this month, the mayor, a former NYPD captain, launched a revamped version of a police unit whose task will be to get more firearms off the streets of the city, whose gun violence levels still remain at pre-pandemic levels.

The specialised police force, with more than 200 police officers, consists of Neighborhood Safety Teams who will work to fulfil Mr Adams’ mayoral campaign promise of reducing shootings while avoiding unnecessarily aggressive tactics.

The rollout of these teams, which Mr Adams describes as “an elite group of men and women with specialised training and skill set to zero in on gun violence”, has not been welcomed in all corners of the city.

Dermot Shea, a former NYPD commissioner, has called the mayor’s anti-gun unit out for being an archaic practice that, more often than not in his assessment, leads to lawsuits and bad press for the force. Mr Shea disbanded a similar unit that was deployed back in 2020 due to a lack of progress in getting more firearms off the street, and, in the process, causing more harm in the communities they patrolled.

Online, reactions to Mr Adams’ tweet were met with similar emotions, with some calling the New York politician out for seeming to capitalise on one vulnerable woman’s trauma to plug an initiative that has failed to convince progressive New Yorkers of its merits.