Mayor David Dinkins says the public outcry over crime comes at a time when violence is spreading into the city's white neighborhoods.
"It happens . . . that problems of crime and violence in our community is not new," Dinkins said an interview broadcast Tuesday on two radio stations aimed at black audiences. "We've had this problem, and now I guess it has gone beyond our borders and others have become concerned."Asked whether he was saying that people were concerned about crime only because it had become an issue in white neighborhoods, Dinkins replied:
"As was the case when it was deemed that drug addiction was limited to the minority community only, and then was seen that a lot of others in suburbia were affected, the country became more aroused about it."
The interview also focused on the mayor's appearance.
"I suppose some folks are so used to seeing us in dungarees and overalls - you know, out on the plantation or something," Dinkins said. "But I don't see anything wrong with being neat and clean.
"One reporter wrote that `Dinkins is a slick suit.' I'm still trying to figure out what a slick suit is. If it means that it was well-tailored and cleaned and pressed, he's right."
On crime, City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, through his spokeswoman, sharply disagreed with Dinkins' assertion that the issue became serious only after it spread to white neighborhoods.
"Absolutely not," Vallone's spokeswoman, Peg Breen, said. "Peter believes that crime is a hot issue because crime is a hot issue. Crime knows no color or status. Everyone in the city is concerned because everyone in the city is a potential victim."
And in yet another example of violence in New York, police say a teenager who can speak only one phrase in English, "Give me a dollar," was arrested and charged in the murder of an 18-year-old.
The victim was stabbed in the heart after he refused to give $1 to a panhandler, police said.
The suspect, Edgardo Lebron, 15, was charged with second-degree murder, first-degree attempted robbery and criminal possession of a weapon, said Sgt. Tina Mohrmann.
Deputy Chief Michael Philbin said Lebron came to the Bronx on Sept. 9 from Puerto Rico to live with unidentified relatives.
To fight the city's burgeoning crime problem, Dinkins told state legislators Tuesday that he favors hiring more civilians to do desk jobs to allow police officers to patrol the streets.
Dinkins said setting the number of newly hired police officers at 5,000 - as some lawmakers have proposed - is not what needs to be done against crime.