MOSHE HILL OPINION COLUMNS APRIL 19 2023
A month after District Attorney Alvin Bragg figured out where the courthouse was long enough to indict former President Donald Trump, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, controlled by the Republican majority, held a hearing in America’s largest city, focusing on the problem of violent crime. The Committee, chaired by Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, came up to New York City itself to hear testimonies in an aptly titled hearing, “Victims of Violent Crime in Manhattan.”
Before the hearing even began, Democrats dismissed it as a political stunt unworthy of their attention. A CNN headline screamed, “House GOP escalates defense of Trump with New York field hearing seeking to discredit Manhattan DA.” Representatives Dan Goldman and Adriano Espaillat, both Democrats of New York, said in a statement, “The pro-crime Republican Party’s latest political stunt is to come to New York City and interfere in an ongoing criminal investigation.” If that’s not enough of a stretch of the imagination, they continued, “At the explicit direction of Donald Trump, they are coming to the safest big city in America with the sole aim of abusing their power to serve as a taxpayer-funded arm of Donald Trump’s legal defense team.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York Representative Jerry Nadler, the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, held a joint press conference outside of the location where the hearing was being held, and echoed the sentiment that investigating the failures of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office while it blatantly interferes with a Presidential election and violates all norms and precedent in the nation was a “stunt.” “It is really troubling that American taxpayers’ dollars are being used to come here on this junket to do an examination of the safest big city in America, instead of focusing on the real over-proliferation of guns that we have witnessed,” said Adams. Nadler said, ahead of the hearing, “This hearing is being called for one reason, and one reason only: to protect Donald Trump… Jim Jordan and his Republican accomplices are acting as an extension of the Trump defense team… That is an outrageous abuse of power.”
If they waited long enough before seeking out their media allies to spoon-feed the narrative, they would have heard some incredibly outrageous testimony about the failures of Alvin Bragg. Witnesses to the hearing included Jose Alba, the bodega clerk who became the quintessential example of the incompetence of the DA’s office, when he was charged with second-degree murder in a clear case of self-defense. Only because of the outrage on social media is Alba a free man and not sitting in a jail cell on Rikers Island awaiting trial.
In the prepared version of his statement to the Committee, Alba said he did not have a political agenda, and merely wanted to share his story with Congress. After describing the attack on him and his imprisonment, including a lack of proper medical care after being stabbed during the attack, Alba said, “I believe that law enforcement and the DA’s Office didn’t investigate the case fully. They rushed to judgment, and I suffered because of it. Even though the charges were ultimately dropped, they should not have been brought against me to begin with. I am now traumatized from the incident. I am not working because I am terrified for my life that someone in a gang will come after me for revenge. I was injured physically and mentally because of the incident and my unlawful arrest and incarceration.”
Republican Curtis Sliwa, a former candidate for New York City Mayor and head of the Guardian Angels, expressed his concern about the increase in crime in the city. He spoke about the various types of crime such as shoplifting, boosting, assaults, rapes, and more, that have made some areas danger zones.
Madeline Brame, whose son, Army Veteran Hassan Correa, was murdered in Harlem, expressed her anger towards DA Bragg for dismissing the gang assault and murder indictments against two defendants who were clearly seen on video participating in the brutal killing of her son. She felt that she and her family were “treated like garbage.”
Jennifer Harrison, a victim advocate and Bragg critic, spoke about her boyfriend who was killed in New Jersey in 2005, long before Bragg took office. She criticized Bragg’s campaign promise of finding alternatives to jail time, which includes not prosecuting crimes like trespassing, fare evasion, prostitution, as well as downgrading other more serious offenses.
NYC Councilman Robert Holden raised concerns about the downgrading of serious offenses such as knifepoint robberies, commercial and residential burglaries, weapons possession, and low-level drug dealing. He felt that these crimes were being charged with lesser offenses, which could lead to a dangerous situation in the city.
Some of the most passionate testimony came from Barry Borgen, the father of Joseph Borgen, who was beaten “in Times Square in broad daylight, all because he was wearing a yarmulka and going to a pro-Israel rally.” After recounting what happened to his son, he blasted DA Bragg for dragging his feet and handing out sweetheart deals to his son’s attackers. One of his six attackers, Waseem Awawdeh, told the jail guard that he “would do it again” if given the opportunity and was carried away on the shoulders of glowing admirers after posting bail. He was given a six-month sweetheart deal by Bragg’s office.
In the two years since the attack occurred, none of the attackers have been convicted, despite the mountains of evidence that should put each of them away for the better part of a decade. This is because the DA’s office has not set deadlines or had any urgency to prosecute these cases. Borgen claims his son “has physical therapy three days a week, and these six individuals are walking around without a care in the world.”
Borgen turned his ire to Jerry Nadler and Senator Chuck Schumer. While saying that he heard from then-candidate Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul, his calls to Nadler’s and Schumer’s offices went unreturned. “I must take issue with Mr. Nadler. You’re a Jewish New Yorker. I called your office numerous times. I called Mr. Schumer’s office, another Jewish New Yorker, numerous times. No one called us back. Neither one of you came out with a statement about my son’s incident. You’re a Jewish New Yorker. You have Jewish roots here. Behavior like this enables DA Bragg to do whatever he wants to do.”
He is absolutely right. Whenever a hate crime is committed like this one anywhere in the country, it is a common tactic for politicians to play identity politics and speak out on behalf of the victim. If a black person is victimized by a hate crime, every black politician speaks about it. The same is true for any woman, Muslim, or any other group – especially if it occurs within their jurisdiction or nearby. Despite this (and despite Chuck Schumer claiming for years that his name means that he is “Shomer Yisrael”) these two prominent Jewish New York members of the United States Congress, who would normally knock over anyone who had the audacity to stand between them and a camera, couldn’t be bothered.
While the Media and the Democrats will dismiss these hearings as a stunt, that cannot and must not diminish their importance, nor the gravity of the testimony heard. DA Alvin Bragg is a failure of a prosecutor, and the only stunt that is occurring is his outrageous abuse of power when so many in the city that he is charged with protecting are suffering because of his weaponized incompetence.