DA Alvin Bragg can’t wait until NYC is in mourning to get it right

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Now New York knows what it takes to make Alvin Bragg enforce the law.

Two dead cops.

Manhattan’s new DA approaches the penal code like a buffet restaurant menu — a set of options to be exercised, not a binding body of law.

His freely conceded point is to keep as many criminals as possible out of jail, mostly by downgrading clear felonies to misdemeanors — while ignoring misdemeanors altogether. (See his infamous Jan. 2 staff memo for details.)

It’s an insane approach, especially when crime is laser-focusing attention on public safety — but Bragg simply thumbs his nose at criticism. The US Constitution, he said recently in a New York University Law School address, gives him the right to pick and choose.

So there.

Then came the ambush murders of Detectives Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora; two days of gut-wrenching eulogies at St. Patrick’s Cathedral; blistering denunciations of Bragg and his strategies — and, then, a grudging concession.

Henceforth, the DA wrote in another staff memo last week, armed robbery in Manhattan stores “will be charged as a felony whether or not the gun is loaded.”

New York police officers gather for the funeral of NYPD officer Wilbert Mora.
Thousands of police officers flooded the streets of Manhattan for the funerals of slain NYPD Officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora.
AFP via Getty Images

For at least as long as the heat is on, he didn’t add.

This is not nothing, of course, and no doubt the borough’s shopkeepers will take it. But what a heartbreakingly high price to pay for it.

Many more to protect

And let’s be clear — there is no reason to believe Bragg has surrendered anything to decency; he has merely opened negotiations for acceptance of as much of his radical agenda as the public will swallow.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks to supporters.
Bragg had previously ordered his prosecutors to stop seeking prison sentences for hordes of criminals and to downgrade felony charges in cases including armed robberies and drug dealing.
AP

Moving on down from ambush murders, what would be the DA’s opening bid for targeting housing-authority gangbanging? How many innocent bystanders need to be eulogized before Bragg moves? Folks from the projects don’t get 24-hour coverage, like murdered cops, but shouldn’t they count for something?

How many needless deaths in the subways will it take to compel Bragg to address the chaos there? How many hundreds of millions must the Transit Authority lose before the pressure to address fare-beating becomes too intense?

How many more Rite-Aids must close before Bragg agrees to take organized shoplifting for the broad social threat that it is? Two more? Ten more? All of them?

Keep the heat on

And here is a larger question: How long will Manhattan stand for his perverse, pick-and-choose interpretation of the criminal codes?

Bragg told NYU that prosecutorial discretion is constitutionally protected, which it is. Yet what he’s actually practicing, on his own authority alone, is prosecutorial nullification: He’s trying to neuter the penal law by refusing to enforce it.

This is absurd.

Motorcycle police lead the funeral procession for slain New York City police officer Wilbert Mora.
Both Rivera and Mora were celebrated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral before being laid to rest.
EPA

But Bragg is not alone. Big-city DAs across the country do the same every day — peddling legal nihilism in the service of racial equity, never mind that the butcher’s bill is paid mostly by big-city racial minorities.

But, again, everyday victims of urban violence aren’t buried from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, with high-ranking politicians in the front pews and mourners by the thousands packing Fifth Avenue.

That is, with the sort of service people like Alvin Bragg can’t ignore.

Bragg marginally adjusted his policies after the NYPD funerals — that is, he blinked, a fair measure of insincerity. So while he may seem committed fully to a chaotic Manhattan, he’s also a politician — pushback works.

More, please.

Email: [email protected]

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