by Nora Bosworth
A 21-year-old woman was taking in the sunrise from Hudson River Park on Saturday, when a man dragged her into the bushes and brutally raped her. Once her attacker fled the woman ran naked and shouting to nearby policemen; soon after the police apprehended John Stewart, 25, a homeless and convicted sex offender found hidden nearby. The victim then identified the suspect through an ambulance window, according to the New York Post.
The atrocity came only ten days after the Strawberry Fields rape of an elderly birdwatcher, and has incensed residents and local politicians alike, who are rallying for safer streets. At 7:30AM on Monday, Speaker Christine Quinn, Council Member Margaret Chin, and other elected officials and downtown residents organized a protest march from Harrison and West Streets in Lower Manhattan through the Hudson River Park. They walked to reclaim their neighborhood, and to “send a message to predators that New Yorkers will not tolerate attacks in their community.”
Meanwhile, the attack spurred still more politicians, like Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and State Senator Daniel Squadron, to demand that the Office of Management and Budget drop any proposed cuts to the city’s funding for public safety.
“When news of a brutal rape feels like deja vu, immediate action must be taken to protect the safety of all New Yorkers,” Borough President Stringer declared. “Statistics show that as crimes like rape are on the rise, funding and manpower at the NYPD faces cuts. Law enforcement needs all the resources at its disposal to keep New York free of crime. The City should suspend planned cuts to the NYPD and Parks Enforcement Patrol budget.” A City Hall source, however, has said that no such cuts are in order, according to the Post.
Politicians like Council Member Chin attributed past budget cuts to the surge of rapes, saying, “We cannot ignore reality, which is that cuts to police, homeless and mental health services, have made it much more likely that criminals and mentally ill individuals are on our streets.” In fact, the New York Times reports, rapes have risen by 4% this year according to NYPD statistics, though the vast majority involved perpetrators who knew their victims personally.
Meanwhile, as local politicians and residents wait for the city to respond to their outcries, some will be gathering near the latest crime sites to learn physical means of defense. Speaker Quinn and others announced that a free self-defense class will be taught in Tribeca later this month. Additionally, on October 7th at 2 p.m. Quinn and Council Members will partake in a free self-defense class in Central Park’s North Meadow Recreation Center.
“We’re not going to yield one blade of grass to sexual perpetrators,” said Speaker Quinn on Sunday.”We’re not going to yield one street corner.”
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