Winning the Republican primary with 67% of the votes, a challenger to “Squad” member Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., wants to take down the progressive firebrand because she’s fed up with crime in New York City.
Congressional candidate of New York’s 14th district Tina Forte told Fox News Digital that people are afraid to be out at night because of the city’s rising crime.
She added that she spoke with constituents directly about crime by going to their homes, businesses, and even on the streets of New York.
“They don’t come out at night anymore like they used to,” Forte said.
Forte went on to say, “They tell me personal stories to be honest with you. I live here, work here, I raise my family here, I see the difference, I see stores closing earlier than when they normally do. You have liquor stores that close earlier. You have a grandma and grandpa come out for cappuccino at night that don’t want to come out until we’re going home because it’s getting dark out. We’re afraid to be out. Those are the things I am getting back from people.”
Although Big Apple murder rates were similar this year compared to last, other major crimes have surged. Police statistics and polls show that New Yorkers are fed up, Fox News Digital reported earlier this month.
Ocasio-Cortez has been one of the most vocal and high-profile lawmakers to demand the defunding of American police departments. In her own district, major crime has climbed steadily over the past two years.
According to Paul Mauro, an attorney and former NYPD inspector, key major crimes to watch are robberies and burglaries — highly invasive profit-motivated crimes that often involve repeat offenders.
In police precincts that are located in Ocasio-Cortez’s middle- and working-class district, those crime numbers have also increased.
In the NYPD’s 43rd Precinct, covering the Southeast Bronx, robberies soared 70% between the start of the year and Aug. 7, the most recent date for which statistics are available.
Burglaries were up more than 30%. To the north in the 45th Precinct, robberies were up more than 12% this year compared to last but more than double the 2020 total. In the 49th, robberies also climbed, but burglaries were down significantly — 20% lower than 2021 and almost 30% lower than 2020.
In the 114th, a relatively safe area that covers parts of Astoria, Woodside and Jackson Heights in Ocasio-Cortez’s congressional district, year-to-date robberies were up nearly 20% compared to 2021 and more than 56% higher than in 2020. Burglaries were up 7% and 30.2%.
In the 108th, which covers parts of Ocasio-Cortez’s constituency as well as the affluent Long Island City neighborhood, which is outside of her congressional district, robberies climbed by 71% and 84.4% over the past two years. Robberies were up more than 75% in the neighboring 109th precinct, near the Mets’ Citi Field.
Forte argued that the cause of rising crime is “immunity” being lifted off of police officers, “bail reform,” and “woke” district attorneys.
“They have handcuffs on our police but they don’t want to keep the handcuffs on our violent criminals. That’s the problem and that’s what needs to be fixed. Especially in this district,” Forte said.
Experts claim it is not only defunding the police that impedes the NYPD’s ability to address crime. It’s a combination of low morale, officers retiring early or taking jobs in smaller departments, and bail reforms that put repeat offenders back on the streets, sometimes within hours of their arrests.
Even progressive New York City Mayor Eric Adams called the state’s bail reform laws “insane” and “dangerous.” The statements prompted liberal Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg to push back.
Adams criticized the fact that many crimes in the city are being committed by repeat offenders. Of the 2,400 shootings since last year, 716 suspects were responsible for 30% of them, he said.
“We have the criminals that are being released immediately due to the AOC-supported bail reform,” Forte said. “Not to mention, we have the highest tax burden in America in New York City. We have nothing to show for it except crime, high unemployment, bad school, and leaders who behave like the very third-world dictators they admire.”
Furthermore, Forte vowed to “refund” the police force, hire more police officers, and give police officers their “immunity” back if elected.
“I will hold back federal funding if you do not put more police on the street and if you do not pay them what they deserve to be paid because they’re the real hero, not a baseball player, not the elite; They’re not heroes to me. Our heroes are our policemen.”
Forte is also a supporter of school choice.
The Throggs Neck native Forte clinched GOP nomination with 67 percent of the votes, making an all-Bronx general election for New York’s 14th congressional district.
Forte defeated Queens native Desi Joseph Cuellar in a primary by a 67%-31% margin on Tuesday.
The 14th District includes the eastern part of the Bronx and part of north-central Queens, which is currently helmed by progressive firebrand Ocasio-Cortez.
Forte faces an uphill battle as she bids to unseat Ocasio-Cortez in a traditionally blue district.
Fox News’ Michael Ruiz contributed to this report.