The New York Police Department on February 16, 2022, announced the arrest of 12 people as part of an "enforcement initiative targeting shoplifters." The very next day, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to slam those arrests and called it a failure to "acknowledge our politics and economic priorities create conditions where people steal baby formula to survive." However, it seems the AOC didn't take much time to do some research, which she really should have.
New York, like many other cities, is facing a surge in shoplifting and theft, which many have blamed on the "woke" policies of far-left DAs like George Gascon of Los Angeles and Manhattan's newest DA Alvin Bragg. However, it appears that the 12 people arrested aren't just accused of shoplifting. They reportedly have extensive rap sheets and a history of violence, with charges like assault, arson, and even strangulation.
The news is likely to lead to more condemnation of AOC, as the Rep. is already under immense pressure to backtrack her statement. As Democrats have taken control of several cities, DAs have made several sweeping changes that put career criminals back on the streets, while even ignoring some crimes in favor of hunting those accused of more serious ones. The tactic clearly hasn't worked well and is now biting Joe Bien back ahead of the 2022 midterms.
AOC's 'Dirty Dozen'
Announcing the arrests, the NYPD said it had recovered "$1800 worth of merchandise" from the 12, including baby formula, diapers, and other household goods. Of the 12, only Jose Perez did not have a past arrest record. The arrest in February was his first. By contrast, 38-year-old Weston Coot has eight arrests, including one conviction of assault over a 2009 bar fight. Coot has also been arrested on charges of drug possession, gang assault, and turnstile jumping. He is, however, one of the less serious offenders.
Tanya Thomas, 43, has 26 prior arrests including for robbery, criminal trespassing, drug possession, prostitution, drug dealing and burglary. The charges of petit larceny and possession of stolen property stemming from her latest make it her 27th on record. Euniya Morales,34, too has an equally large rap sheet, with 22 past arrests for assault, criminal mischief, and drug possession.
Similarly, 43-year-old Jennifer Pino has 27 prior arrests for everything from driving on drugs to drug dealing and possession. Eugene Morrison, who is 46-years-old has 46 prior arrests for charges of drug possession, robbery, reckless endangerment, forgery, trespassing, turnstile jumping, and criminal mischief. Shahana Taylor, 64, has 38 arrests on similar counts, but these are far from the most violent members of the group.
Carlos Bonet has been charged in the past with weapons possession, and Annieza Saulmarshall has charges of arson, burglary, and evidence tampering. Urayoan Reyes was once arrested for strangulation, but also has charges of criminal mischief, assault, drug dealing, and shoplifting on his rap sheet.
Backlash forces NYPD to delete tweet
All the records were released by the NYPD to the media, but surprisingly, the tweet announcing the arrest has since been taken down. That likely stems from the backlash not just from AOC, but others including public defender Eliza Orlins. Many social media users were appalled by the fact that the 12 stole basic household items, which led AOC to tweet, "When I talk about violent conditions, this is what I mean. But hey, it’s much easier to frame people who steal baby formula and medicine as monsters to be jailed than acknowledge our politics and economic priorities create conditions where people steal baby formula to survive."
The department is yet to address the firestorm but appears to have chosen to release the records of those arrested as a statement to those who have slammed it. Of the 12 arrested, two reportedly live in homeless shelters. It's not clear what the situation of the others is, which has led to a massive debate over whether or not they were stealing for themselves, or to resell on the streets. Either way, their long rap sheets make it clear that most of those arrested are career criminals who've done this before.