Watching the heartbroken eulogy of a police officer’s widow is painful under any circumstances. But the pain of watching the widow of Officer Jason Rivera was mixed with a sense of awe and admiration.
Dominique Luzuriaga managed to express not only immeasurable grief, but also a restrained fury toward the insanity that paints cops as bad guys and criminals as victims.
“This system continues to fail us,” she said through tears at a packed St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Friday (right).
“We are not safe anymore, not even the members of the service.”
Then, speaking to her husband, whose casket she stood near, Luzuriaga added: “I know you were tired of these laws, especially the ones from the new DA. I hope he’s watching you speak through me right now. ”
The audience rose and gave her a thundering ovation that rang throughout the majestic cathedral. This was no ordinary funeral.
With an enormous public outpouring and Fifth Avenue turned into a sea of blue, the scene and raw emotions recalled the many police and fire funerals after 9/11. They were a catharsis for a shattered city and, if we are lucky, this funeral will mark a turning point in the war against the crime and violence bringing New York to its knees.
The DA she was talking about, Alvin Bragg of Manhattan, was indeed in the audience and heard her words.
But in truth, Luzuriaga was also aiming at a far larger audience than just him, and she hit both targets.
The slaughter of the innocents, including her husband and his partner, Officer Wilbert Mora, must be a galvanizing moment for a public sick to death of living in fear. It is a rational fear because not even the police are safe, but this paralysis can not be allowed to continue if the city is to survive.
A reckoning is overdue toward the political class that paved the way for this spiral of decline, then looked the other way as the carnage spread like cancer. The far-leftists, their obscene funders and the cold-hearted media that excuse the violence as part of a necessary social transformation must either get on board, or get out of the way.
It is no secret that Democrats are almost single-handedly to blame. Blue cities across America are under the gun in ways the nation has not seen for decades, with murder increases setting records from sea to shining sea.
Many governors, legislatures, city councils and courts have played a role in trying to make a bloody crime wave seem inevitable and normal.
New York was not exempt and the former mayor should live in infamy for failing to keep the public safe. Fortunately, in his successor we have someone who promises to combat the lawlessness and disorder.
Mayor Adams is a Democrat but also a former NYPD captain, and he vows to be the new face of his party and teach America how to run a city.
Those are noble ambitions, but his first month in office has been noteworthy for spilled blood, with two cops murdered and three wounded. A woman was killed when a vagrant shoved her in front of a subway train and an 11-month-old baby was wounded by gunfire. Those are just the headline cases.
In a perverse way, these shocking events set the stage for an aggressive and comprehensive response.
But no sooner had Adams released his plan of attack than the usual suspects started carping. It came from fellow Dems in Albany and the City Council, who aim to neuter his major initiatives.
“No undercover police” cry some, including the new council speaker. It would be one thing if they had a better way of getting illegal guns off the streets, but they have no plan at all.
“No bail reform” insists the cowardly leaders of the state Legislature, even though New York is the only state in America that forbids judges from considering if a suspect is a danger to society before releasing him.
These same lawmakers also reject Adams’ call to lower from 18 to 16 the age where violent suspects can be prosecuted as adults.
The resisters claim they are acting to protect black and Latino New Yorkers from the police and a racist criminal justice system, when blacks and Latinos are the overwhelming victims of crime.
Besides, New York now has a black mayor and a black police commissioner. The dead officers were both Latinos, so the racial argument is long past its sell date.
The police are the answer, not the problem. Handcuffing them while setting violent suspects free is creating more victims.
So far, Gov. Hochul has been a disappointment because she seems to want it both ways. One day she promises to work with Adams to make the city safer, the next she sides with lefty lawmakers in giving the kiss of death to his legislative proposals.
She put Bragg on notice in a meeting with the Post editorial board Wednesday, but her statement after meeting with him Friday was frustratingly vague in saying “safety and justice must go hand-in-hand.”
This is the best she could do after attending Rivera’s funeral and hearing his widow’s call to action?
Once nation’s safest city
The facts and history of the crime explosion are not complicated. For two decades Gotham was the nation’s safest big city, but public order started to break down in the summer of 2020 and has continued ever since. Murder, shootings, rape, robbery, assaults, car theft – the city is being destroyed before our eyes.
And so Hochul can not be with Adams and also Bragg, nor can she be with both Adams and the leaders of the Legislature who changed laws to go soft on suspects.
Years ago, author and critic Midge Decter issued a challenge to timid fence-sitters. On the critical issues of the day, Decter said, “There comes a time to join the side you’re on.”
It’s brilliant advice, and made for this moment. The public square is contentious and can be brutal, but we know what we believe to be true. Yet we too often lack the courage to take a public stand.
When it comes to the crime plague, there are no more excuses for delay or splitting the difference. This is a life-or-death crisis, and it’s time for all New Yorkers to speak up, to take action.
The fate of the city, like all urban areas, depends on public safety. Without it, commerce withers, jobs die and those who aren’t huddled in corners move about in constant terror.
Still others flee to safer climes, depriving the city of their spending and talent, and their stabilizing influences on schools and neighborhoods.
That exodus is well underway and many others are waiting to decide whether to go or stay.
The stakes could not be higher. And this being New York, the world is watching.
It’s time to join the site you’re on.