Incarcerating The Crisis: Adams To Criminalize Mental Illness


NYC-DSA Mental Health Response Statement

Eric Adams’s recent decision to forcibly remove people from public spaces and subject them to involuntary detention if police decide they are in crisis is the latest of the mayor’s efforts to criminalize unhoused and poor New Yorkers. This expansion of the project of criminalization is not to help people, but to maintain above all a good environment for big business and real estate interests. NYC-DSA unequivocally opposes this draconian policy, which we know can only exacerbate the dire conditions facing the most vulnerable New Yorkers.

This directive allows police and DOH personnel to involuntarily detain New Yorkers who appear to be suffering from mental illness — even when those people do not pose a threat to themselves or others. Giving the NYPD unilateral power to determine who is experiencing mental illness and force them into potentially traumatizing stays in overcrowded and under resourced psychiatric institutions is not only an ineffective response to our city’s real problems, but also a cruel violation of all New Yorkers’ bodily autonomy. It also opens up more opportunities for the NYPD to do what they do best: protect private property and profiteering; crack down on political dissent; and harass, harm, and kill Black people, unhoused people, and other oppressed peoples.

What’s more, this policy comes in the midst of the Mayor’s ongoing cuts to social services across the city. Just last week, the Adams administration announced plans to eliminate half of all vacant public-service positions across city agencies — excluding, of course, the NYPD and DOC. Cutting the social safety net creates the conditions for violence in our communities and continued crises of mental and emotional health — and these problems won’t be solved by disappearing more people by force.

What New York needs is massive investment towards a society of care: accessible community clinics; non-police first responders trained in mental healthcare; safe consumption sites and support for drug users; and a housing first model. If Mayor Adams cared to provide real solutions to New Yorkers’ problems, he would redirect funds from the NYPD’s bloated $11 billion budget into housing for all, healthcare for all, and other life-affirming institutions. We call on city council members, community organizations, and New Yorkers everywhere to stand against this outrageous policy that will only deal more death and destruction to our vulnerable city.

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NYC-DSA Racial Justice Working Group

Racial Justice Working Group is part of the NYC chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. Follow us as we #DefundNYPD and refund the people.