Andrew Yang speaks to media outside.

Andrew Yang Proposes Offensive ‘Two Strike Rule’ for Policing Those With Mental Health Issues

Yang continues to Bobby Newport his way through New York City's mayoral race.

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Former presidential candidate and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang continues his ill-advised campaign for mayor of New York City. Yang was long considered a frontrunner, but has seen his polling numbers drop in the wake of several public gaffes, including a ringing endorsement for Israel’s attack on Palestine, proposing the concept of domestic violence shelters (which already exist), and failing to properly identify a bodega.

The problem is simple: every time Yang opens his mouth, he reveals how little he knows about New York City, the workings of local government, and the issues important to his potential constituents—subjects that all seem crucial to anyone aspiring to a career in politics, but whatever.

In an interview with PIX11 News, Yang discussed his new plans to diversify the NYPD. But the interview took a strange turn when Yang said, “Right now when a police officer encounters someone doing something disruptive, but isn’t quite at a level where you want to arrest them … let’s say they seem kind of unwell or they’re harassing someone, what we need to do is document that with a warning, let the person know ‘look, if you do something like this again we’re going to take much firmer action.’ because a lot of these folks struggle with mental illness and capacity, and we can get them to better environments that’s gonna be a win for everyone.”

I’m sorry, what’s the plan here exactly? Threatening folks with mental illness? And what’s the “firmer action” and “better environments”? This vague mixture of half-baked ideas from Yang is both dismissive of the mentally ill and ignorant of the threat that these people face from the police on a daily basis. A major cornerstone of the Defund the Police movement is the redistribution of funds towards crisis counselors and social workers, who could intervene in these sorts of situations. Since 2015, nearly a quarter of all people killed by the police have a known mental illness.

So Yang’s response to this is warnings and “firmer action.” How does this in any way protect people with mental health issues? Does he honestly expect someone in the midst of a mental health crisis to pause and remember that warning they got from the cops? If anything, this only further criminalizes mental health issues and puts a vulnerable subset of the population even more at risk. Yang’s answer shows just how out of touch and disconnected he is from the realities of everyday New Yorkers.

Hopefully New York voters will see through Yang’s charade and realize that he isn’t bringing anything to the table beyond platitudes and vague promises. And for the future, can the people running for office actually bother to learn anything about civics, government procedures, and what the job they so desperately want actually entails? It’s just not that hard.

(image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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Author
Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.