After the shooting death of Jayquan McKenly, an 18-year-old young man from the Bronx who was an aspiring rapper but had a troubled upbringing, Mayor Eric Adams told NY1 he sat down to study what he says is a pattern.
"We've had these struggles from when I was a child," Adams told NY1 during a phone interview on Thursday. "They've been ingrained in our society for a long time. Some of it is racism, some of it is that we have written off these communities."
Jayquan McKenly's story was the centerpiece of a speech delivered by Adams in the Blue Room of City Hall Thursday.
Adams grew emotional, at one point holding back tears as he told McKenly's story.
He grew up in the South Bronx, where 50% of children live below the poverty line. McKenly grew up in a neighborhood with one of the highest unemployment rates in the city and one of the lowest graduation rates. By the time McKenly was 5 years old, his family entered a homeless shelter.
"His story tests my spirit. And we must do better for people like him," Adams said.
According to Adams, McKenly would go on to struggle in school and his family would face hurdles when they tried asking the city for help.
"Looking at cases where young people are alleged trigger pullers. I saw the same pattern, a lack of education, a lack of housing and their interaction with law enforcement," Adams told NY1.
Instead of another statistic illustrating the recent uptick in crime, Adams says stories like McKenly's are part of a larger pattern forming the fabric of a city that is failing its youngest generation.
"To Jayquan's mother and father, I want to say I'm sorry. I'm sorry that our city missed so many chances to help your family," Adams said.
Laying blame at the feet of the massive bureaucracy he's in charge of running is a theme that's emerged in the first five weeks of the Adams administration.
"This isn’t a speech about a policy or a single young life. It’s a case study of how a young man becomes a trigger-puller. It’s the anatomy of a failure — not of Jayquan’s failure, but ours as a society," he said.
Two months into office he's focusing on public safety — the issue that got him elected. And he's having to balance what some may see as contradictory messaging: he wants changes to the bail laws and youth offenders prosecuted in adult court, but he also supports legislation to clear convictions records for those coming out of the system.
Asked about his plans, the mayor acknowledged it's work that could take years.
"Each one of my agencies will be tasked with identifying and closing the gaps that allowed these children to fall through the cracks," Adams said.
The mayor has asked city agencies to use McKenly's story as a case study, figure out every step where they went wrong and come up with plans to prevent it from happening again to other young people like him.
"To say how long it's going to take to turn this around, something that has been decades in the making, is a question that I can’t answer right now, it's something that I'm going to put my full support to," Adams told NY1. "It may be this term, it may be several terms, but we have to start somewhere and it's going to start with me."
(责编： 洋洋 )