A Prophetic Call to Pray for New York City
Crime continues to be a major problem in America’s cities, so we bring you this article from February 2022.
Sunday morning last November, I was walking east on 43rd Street on my way from my apartment on 10th avenue to New York City’s Grand Central Station. I was planning to take the commuter train north from Manhattan to the city of White Plains, where my husband and I have attended church for more than 20 years.
As I crossed 9th avenue, I saw a little group of people gathered in the middle of the sidewalk. Usually when I see a group like this, I cross to the other side of the street to pass. But for some reason, I got ornery and said to the Lord silently, “Well, this is my city too!” as I passed between the members of the group. They were concluding a drug deal.
A block later, I crossed between two New York police officers busily thumbing their smart phones. After I gave my customary thanks to them, I said, “By the way, there is a drug deal happening a block back,” using my own thumb to point. “Okay, we got it,” one officer said as they bobbed their heads at me, still leaning back on the scaffolding encasing the building they were near and holding their phones at the ready.
Maybe they did “have it.” Maybe they were in the midst of a sting. I had seen reports of several drug arrests made recently in my neighborhood, known cheerily as “Hell’s Kitchen,” home of Irish gangsters back in the day.
But if the cops didn’t “have it” or had no intention of “having it,” I would not have been surprised. It has been difficult to do any policing in New York City (NYC) where politicians have “defunded” the police department and district attorneys — including newly installed District Attorney — have declined to prosecute many offenses.
As mayor of NYC, William de Blasio’s record on crime control was but relations with the and never recovered. Things got worse when pent-up anxiety and anger related to the Covid 19 lockdowns and the killing of George Floyd in May 2020 erupted in . Human cost aside, the riots were among the most expensive in U.S. history. While insured costs of the riots soared to across the nation, early estimates put the toll on NYC at .
But City Hall reaction to Black Lives Matter (BLM) and other protestors’ demands cost New York City its 600-member anti-crime unit, a plain clothes unit specifically charged with recovering illegal guns and preventing local crime, such as burglary or street crime. This move, along with “defunding the police” by $1 billion, reportedly drove in 2020.
Another significant factor in driving up crime rates was the relocation of thousands of homeless people from shelters in other boroughs into mid-town Manhattan hotels rendered empty by the Covid-19 shutdown. Intended to curb the spread of the virus — moving vulnerable people from overcrowded shelters into unused tourist hotels — the scheme failed to account for the sudden influx of drug addicted and mentally ill into a few square blocks. More than 20% of the relocated homeless people were jammed into locations in Hell’s Kitchen and the nearby Broadway District. With theatre shut down, Times Square returned to the milieu of ‘70s and ‘80s, when it was a haunt for drug and sex sales. In mid-2021, assaults and robberies in the area once known for family friendly musicals shot up 185% and 173% respectively, compared with a citywide increase of 8% in assaults and a drop in robberies of 5%, according to .
Hope for conquering crime sprang up with the election of Mayor Eric Adams, a former police officer. But his installation in the first week of January has not yet had the desired effect on crime. Year over year, The overall crime index for January 2022 increased 38.5% compared with January 2021. Only five precincts across New York’s boroughs have seen rates hold steady or dip slightly compared with 2021; of these only one in Manhattan — the 22nd Precinct encompassing Central Park — held steady with 2021. The New York Post quoted one officer saying, “Only the squirrels are safe.” Grand larceny, burglaries, felonious assault and robbery lead the crime surge.
Even long-time police critic noted the surge, complaining about how local pharmacies lock up even relatively low cost items such as toothpaste to prevent thievery. Sharpton even hinted at breaking with the liberal leniency with prosecutions during an interview with MSNBC in early February. Sharpton told Joe Scarborough, ”There are those that are concerned, including me, about overloading the system and the jails with petty crime. But at the same time, you cannot have a culture where people are just, at random, robbing and stealing.’’
The White House also registered some concern. Newsmax quoted Joe Biden telling Adams in a meeting early February, “The answer is not to abandon our streets. The answer is not to defund the police. It’s to give you the tools, the training, the funding to be partners, to be protectors.” Biden joins the growing number of liberal politicians trying to distance themselves from the “defund the police” movement as indicates most Americans blame this movement for crime surges around the nation.
Rhetoric aside, New York City residents feel abandoned. One of my neighbors — a woman in her eighties — does not even go down the block alone anymore. She reported how a friend, a man in his sixties, recently sustained black eyes in a robbery with a younger man. Another neighbor refused to allow her 16-year-old son walk from 43rd street to 34th street to evening fencing lessons. She drove him the few blocks because of the dangerous streets.
If the streets seem risky, the subways — always dirty and smelly — have become a sort of Russian roulette to traverse. soared 65% in the first two weeks of January 2022 alone. The week of February 10, a man tried to rape a woman in mid-morning on the E train in lower Manhattan. Several other assaults — including shoves into the paths of oncoming trains — have captured headlines, driving fear levels even higher.
Many of those arrested for the high profile crimes have been identified as homeless and mentally ill. As noted above, centralizing the population in a few neighborhoods may have driven up the opportunity for crime — certainly more subway stations are available for entry in mid-town Manhattan. But the sheer numbers of homeless in New York City — — escalates the crime situation. Not only are there more troubled people and drug addicts, but a high number of crimes are committed against this vulnerable population.
Other vulnerable populations suffer, as well. The NYPD reported a in hate crimes in 2021 (538) compared with 2020 (275). While crimes against Asians (133 in 2021 vs. 30 in 2020) drove much of the increase, attacks against Jewish people remain highest (207 in 2021 compared to 134 in 2020). Anti-semitism continues to climb: soared to 15 in January 2022 compared with four in January 2021 — a 275% increase.
Last year, IFA published about judgment coming to NYC for its many sins against the Lord. Despite the certainty of God’s correction for NYC, He provided hope and clear direction for intercessors. Please join in this prayer as posted last year:
What to do? Pray for repentance of this city – join your prayer to those who already seek Me about these sins – and there are many (who seek Him).
Pray for the protection of the faithful/remnant as judgment occurs.
Worship with intensity – yes- personal and corporate worship – Yes, at services and special times of corporate worship and praise.
Prepare for the Harvest – Are you ready as My church to catch, to glean? Reflect on what is needed for those I draw to this body of believers.
What are the steps for those who come questioning about Me and if I am the answer they seek?
No doubt about this Harvest! I am, even now, preparing My holy messengers to come to that city and call people out – Some will find this faithful body and need guidance toward Me – Prepare what you will do! Ready yourselves both spiritually and practically.
Amen & Amen.
Post Your Agreement in Prayer Below to Save New York City!
Author Joyce Swingle is an intercessor and contributing writer for Intercessors for America. With her husband Drama Evangelist Rich, Joyce shares the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world through theatre and speaking. Joyce also has performed on screen. Prior to going into full-time ministry, Joyce worked for about 20 major magazines and now works in pastoral ministry and Christian counseling. She and Rich live in New York City.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
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