A mother shot in front of a school in the Bronx. The caretaker of a church in Brooklyn shot inside the church. A man struck by a stray bullet in Brooklyn while he was playing handball.
Those incidents were among the 242 shootings New York City recorded last month, more than twice as many as in August 2019. The steep uptick, which has lasted throughout the summer and has pushed the city past 1,000 shootings before Labor Day, has rattled neighborhoods across all five boroughs. It has also intensified the debate around policing.
President Trump has also seized on the shootings, attempting to shift public attention away from the coronavirus to what he says is out-of-control crime stemming from Democratic policies.
Here’s what we know about the gun violence:
New York City is experiencing a surge in shootings and murders.
The city has tallied 791 shootings since May, a roughly 140 percent increase over the same period in 2019. The 180 murders between May and August are also a more than 50 percent increase compared with last year.
The uptick reflects what many places are experiencing nationwide: Over the first half of the year, a number of large cities, including Chicago and Philadelphia, saw similar rises in those categories of crime.
Some other types of violent crime are down.
Reports of rape and grand larceny have fallen this year in New York City, helping overall crime totals to stay mostly flat. John Pfaff, a law professor at Fordham University, told my colleague Mihir Zaveri that because crime in the city had reached historically low levels, the current rise may seem more striking in percentage terms.
This year’s numbers are far lower than the high levels of crime seen in 1990, for example, when there were 2,245 killings and more than 5,000 people shot.
Officials suggest a range of explanations for the rise in gun violence.
Some elected officials have called for an investigation into whether police officers are conducting a work slowdown to make a point to the critics calling for cuts to the Police Department. But police officials have challenged that idea, asserting that budget cuts, a recent wave of retirements and other demands have stretched officers thin.
“Obviously in June our cops were very occupied with the protests throughout the city,” Chief Terence Monahan told Mr. Zaveri in an interview. As a result, he said, shootings “started to climb up” in areas left unguarded.
The pandemic may be playing a role.
Both Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chief Monahan, who is the highest-ranking uniformed officer in the department, have said they believe the pandemic is playing a role in the current wave of shootings. Feuds have festered in communities where rival gangs cannot escape each other’s presence, fueling a cycle of violence, Mr. Monahan said.
Experts say it’s impossible to point to a single explanation, but Mr. Pfaff agreed that this year’s protests and economic, social and emotional disruption could be heavily influencing the spike in shootings. But much remains unclear, he said.
“How much of that is Covid? How much of that is social unrest? How much of that is the policing response to that?” he told Mr. Zaveri. “At this point it’s far, far too early to really be able to say.”
And finally: Selfies with Teddy won’t be the same
Don’t expect to put your arm around Teddy Roosevelt for a selfie. Or poke a finger in a moon crater, or scrape the mighty jaw of a T. rex.
Real Life. Real News. Real Voices
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When the American Museum of Natural History reopens in Manhattan on Wednesday, it will — like all cultural institutions that have been retrofitted for the pandemic era — look and feel a little different. There are new air filters, one-way traffic patterns and orange stickers denoting where to stand in each corner of an elevator to maintain social distancing.
The sculpture of Roosevelt, seated on an indoor bench and formerly a popular spot for photos, has been cordoned off. Ditto the model of the moon in the Rose Center for Earth and Space, where once you could stand and learn your lunar weight.
The reimagining and re-engineering of the museum experience is meant to be noticeable, and assuring, said Ellen V. Futter, the museum’s president. “We’re very keen for people not only to be safe, but for people to feel safe,” she said, especially as they re-enter large public spaces for the first time in many months.
Capacity will be capped at 25 percent, but a spokesman said the museum was planning to go below that initially, for an even more intimate experience — allowing hundreds, not thousands, of visitors in per hour, up to about 3,500 a day.
But for all the changes — which include the museum’s hours, ticketing, prices and live programming — much will remain the same. Ms. Futter said she expected that many visitors might be flooded with nostalgia and a sense of community upon their return.
It’s Thursday — look around.
Metropolitan Diary: Grand Street Diary
Before it became gentrified, the Lower East Side was a great destination for shopping and food on a Sunday afternoon. It had a diverse mix of bargain stores that sold, among other things, hosiery, fabrics, brassieres, hats and pickles in a barrel.
The Grand Street Dairy restaurant was the epitome of comfort food. It was the place to go to for borscht, pierogi and blintzes. But you had to be prepared for dealing with the sometimes obnoxious and intimidating waiters who had worked there for decades. Simply asking for a glass of water generally brought a sneer.
One Sunday my husband and I were meeting a friend there for lunch. We arrived on time, took a booth and waited for her to show up.
A waiter came over to take our order. We said we were waiting for a friend. Over the next half-hour, he approached our table four or five times, getting increasingly angry when he asked for our order and we said we weren’t ready.
Finally, our friend arrived, sat down in the booth and started waving frantically to the waiter.
He approached the table.
“Lady,” he said. “I waited for you one half-hour. You’ll wait five minutes for me.”
— Susan Brenner
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