New York may have elected a law-and-order mayor last November in Eric Adams, a former New York Police Department officer. However, the borough of Manhattan went the opposite direction when choosing a district attorney.
New Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s “day one” agenda was described by conservative outlet City Journal as being based “on similar policy missives from Los Angeles’s George Gascón, Philadelphia’s Larry Krasner, and San Francisco’s Chesa Boudin — leading figures in the ‘progressive prosecutor’ movement.”
In each of those cities, crime has skyrocketed — and it’s directly attributable to those policies. (We’ve been on top of how these progressive policies have been supercharging crime here at The Western Journal — and you can help us bring readers the facts about what this unearned leniency is doing to America’s great cities by subscribing.)
Unlike those prosecutors, however, Bragg has sold his leftist policies as springing from a hardscrabble upbringing in the Manhattan neighborhood of Harlem.
In his “day one” agenda memo, Bragg — the first black district attorney in the city’s history — described having a gun pointed at him on multiple occasions and witnessing crime all around him during a gritty upbringing.
What he left out, according to a report in Tuesday’s Daily Mail, is that his upbringing took place in a wealthy part of Harlem — he was raised in a brownstone now worth $2 million — and that he attended an elite private school on Manhattan’s ultra-rich Upper West Side from a young age.
“He’s made his biography his moral compass, making it seem like there’s something magic about his life story that gives him the wisdom to establish policies that affect over one million people,” an anonymous insider told the outlet. “I’m not saying he hasn’t experienced racism, but there’s lots of privilege he leaves out of his story.”
One part Bragg generally leaves out is that he grew up on what the Daily Mail’s Shawn Cohen called “one of the safest blocks around, an upper middle-class enclave of brownstones known as Strivers Row.” Since he was 4, he also attended the Trinity School, an elite private academy where the yearly tuition is now $57,000.
Bragg would then go on to Harvard, where he was more candid about his upbringing in a 1995 profile by The Harvard Crimson. Bragg, then the president of the Black Students Association, said others in Harlem “wouldn’t have the same kind of potential, walking to P.S. whatever and trying to learn from a teacher who might not be as concerned” as they were at the Trinity School.
“Bragg says he enjoyed Trinity, despite occasionally feeling like teachers asked him to be the ‘flag-bearer’ for his race in a discussion,” The Harvard Crimson said. “Denise Philpotts, the school’s coordinator of multicultural affairs, says she noticed Bragg’s self-confidence even in his overwhelmingly white elementary school classes.”
The article also called Bragg’s neighborhood, Striver’s Row, “a historic haven for upper-middle-class Black professional households.”
This is somewhat important, given Bragg is selling his criminal justice reform proposals — which feature all the usual Boudin-esque bells and whistles, including putting a halt to prosecutions of low-level crimes and keeping most criminals out of jail.
“Growing up in Harlem in the 1980s, I saw every side of the criminal justice system from a young age,” the “day one” memo begins.
“Before I was 21 years old, I had a gun pointed at me six times: three by police officers and three by people who were not police officers. I had a knife to my neck, a semi-automatic gun to my head and a homicide victim on my doorstep.
“In my adult life, I have posted bail for family, answered the knock of the warrant squad on my door in the early morning, and watched the challenges of a loved one who was living with me after returning from incarceration.”
Just last year, Bragg added, he was subjected to “perhaps the most sobering experience of my life: seeing — through the eyes of my children — the aftermath of a shooting directly in front of our home, as we walked together past yellow crime scene tape, seemingly countless shell casings, and a gun, just to get home.”
None of those claims is necessarily a lie, even if they’re not exactly exhaustively documented, but they’re missing a boatload of context — and they’re meant to paint a picture of an upbringing and life far different from the one Bragg lived and lives.
If I tell you I spent last night sleeping on a bench in Grand Central Station without a bite to eat, you get one picture of who I am. If I then tell you it’s because I missed the last Acela to D.C., then realized I’d lost both my Amex Platinum and Visa Gold — and I don’t carry or use anything else to pay because, look, those points add up — you get a very different one.
Bragg’s life story is very much in the Acela-missing category in this metaphor, but he’s leaving that part out — and that’s not just important because the falsehood-by-omission is being used as the basis for a sweeping set of criminal justice reforms. It’s also how part of how Bragg got elected — because apparently, being a Democrat means being allergic to telling the truth about who you are.
“There wasn’t such a big difference between the candidates on policies, but he was the only black man running and he distinguished himself by talking about his biography, a lot,” the anonymous Bragg insider told the Daily Mail.
Cohen noted that “in a campaign that received little press coverage, Bragg curated his own image with little resistance. He barely mentioned the fact he didn’t have to attend public school or hang out in the projects.”
That has some in his home city calling him out.
One NYPD detective who has worked the Harlem beat told the Daily Mail that Bragg is “trying to score cool points in the hood, but he’s not Tupac Shakur. More like Babyface.” (The former, a slain rapper, was known for his hard-knocks upbringing and lifestyle; the latter, an R&B producer and songwriter, is best known for three decades of sensitive — often schmaltzy — hits.)
“He keeps throwing up Harlem, Harlem, Harlem,” the detective continued, “but he went to the best schools with a silver spoon in his mouth. When you’re privileged like he is, you don’t go through the troubles that the average kids go through in an urban neighborhood.”
Unfortunately, he’s about to exponentiate the troubles those average kids in those urban neighborhoods — and the rest of Manhattan’s residents, for that matter — are going to face.
In his Jan. 6 profile of the new Manhattan DA for City Journal, Thomas Hogan wrote that “Bragg’s directives will drive ordinary citizens and the NYPD crazy.”
“He will not charge defendants for resisting arrest,” Hogan wrote. “The NYPD now can expect every arrest to be a brawl, in which the only person likely to be charged with a crime is a police officer.
“Bragg will also decline to charge traffic infractions. This is the sort of de-prosecution decision that has led to deadly street racing and vehicular mayhem in cities such as Chicago and Minneapolis.
“Finally, he will prevent the police from charging people for trespassing. A quick look at San Francisco’s parallel policy shows a predictable result: tent cities of the homeless in the green spaces and streets.”
He continued: “Bragg’s policies for major crimes will have even more serious consequences. Bragg has directed that armed robberies of businesses no longer be charged as robberies, but only as larcenies.
“If a gun-wielding robber gets away with less than $1,000, which is typically the case in a store robbery, the defendant will be charged solely with petty larceny, a misdemeanor.
“Felons in possession of a firearm will be charged only with misdemeanor offenses for the equivalent of unlicensed possession.
“Finally, drug traffickers will be charged with felony drug dealing only on the rare occasions that they are caught actually in the act of delivering drugs … A drug dealer caught with 50 kilos of heroin would be charged with misdemeanor drug possession, not drug trafficking.”
Hogan also noted that “the only people Bragg recommends for pretrial detention and later prison sentences are murderers, shooters who actually cause serious injuries — firing 50 shots down a crowded street won’t get you locked up if you don’t hit anybody — sex offenders, and perpetrators of specific offenses such as domestic violence or public corruption.”
This is all laid out in the “day one” memo — and it’s prefaced by the origin story of Alvin Bragg, an origin story that led him to the conclusion this was the right and just path to take.
Bragg’s story is a grim fairy tale that leaves out the pertinent elements of his upbringing. The effects of the policies this fairy tale led him to, however, will be very real — and we’ve already seen how this ends.
New York City, which already has a serious crime problem, has just signed on for a whole lot more of it.
The Western Journal reached out to Bragg for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
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