The True Dangers of Jaywalking


If you’re thinking of visiting New York City in the near future, here’s a warning. Mayor Bill de Blasio has decreed that jaywalking, i.e. crossing a road against the traffic lights, is to be punished. New York’s ‘finest’, its police force, has chosen to make older people the main target of the initial crackdown.

If you’re thinking that a fine of $150 doesn’t sound all that bad, you should know that the cops have taken to accidentally smashing older alleged jaywalkers against the wall while arresting them. The London Evening Standard reported that an 84-year-old Korean man failed to stop jaywalking when a bunch of police officers — five of them — told him not to. The man didn’t speak English, but that didn’t stop the heroic cops from surrounding him, pushing him into a wall at high speed, handcuffing him and removing him from the scene of the crime, to a holding cell.

This may come as a surprise to you. You probably thought that New York City police officers spent their time shooting innocent black people, something they do with distressing frequency (although once is too often). No longer. Shooting black people quite rightly attracts bad press coverage. Beating up old foreigners is apparently less offensive to the general American public. Plus, older people tend not to fight back.

I’ve been looking for a reason to terminate my habit of visiting New York, and this outrage is a good one. I jaywalk — there, I’ve said it. If it’s safe for me and everyone else, I cross the road when it suits me, regardless of the traffic lights. Call me a scofflaw, but standing around waiting for lights to change when there’s no good reason to is just not my style.

To be fair, I should point out that some younger people, some of them American, have also been given jaywalking tickets. But only the older ones are taking a beating. How often do we hear that where criminals are concerned? Too often. Now the cops are at it too.

There is no more noble employment than being a police officer. A good cop can save your life at the risk of his or her own. Equally, there’s little worse than a cop gone bad. Many New York City police officers feel that only the use of deadly force makes any sense, so they tend to shoot first and ask questions later.

Only if tourism were to drop precipitately might Hizzoner de Blasio realise that using the police to terrorise older people is not a wise policy. Of course, this is the Mayor who punished drivers in a district whose representative had stood up to his bullying. Since de Blasio’s disciplinarian predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, banned smoking outdoors in Central Park for no better reason than that he could, we should now regard as traditional the election of totalitarian Mayors of New York.

De Blasio is targeting the old. I’m not going to New York City until he’s impeached (which probably won’t take long) and, perhaps, nor should you.

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