A 75-year-old retired crime reporter who was randomly beaten in broad daylight on a New York City street said the attack was “ meaningless ” – unlike 1980s robberies, which were for money.
Judith Thomas says she walked up to her sister on Easter Sunday when a stranger hit her with “a hell of a punch” on the corner of West 119th Street and Lenox Avenues in Harlem.
Thomas, a former Channel 9 crime reporter, had swollen cheeks and lips and an obvious bruise on her face.
Just two days after her attack, the NYPD released its latest crime data for March, showing that overall crime was up 2.4 percent from the same time last year. The increase in violent crime in the city was driven by a 36 percent increase in homicides and a 35 percent increase in car thefts.
But on Wednesday, a day later, NYC Mayor Bill deBlasio said he is convinced New Yorkers don’t live in fear, despite rising crime rates across the board. His comments came hours after another violent attack. In the latest incident, a Kansas tourist was hit in the shoulder by a stray bullet near Times Square.
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VICTIM: Judith Thomas was randomly attacked on Sunday when she was beaten by a man
Thomas suspected that the crime wave was caused by a lack of social services for people with mental health problems and the homeless, among others.
It is urgent that those issues be addressed, she said, yet she begged the people not to give up on the city. She said she wouldn’t.
As for her trial on Sunday, Thomas detailed it like this:
“I was on my way to meet my sister for Easter dinner on Sunday. It was 3 o’clock on a beautiful afternoon. I was a block from the restaurant and all of a sudden I got a fool with a hell of a punch, I mean a really hard punch, ”Thomas said in an interview with DailyMail.com.
BAD OLD DAYS: In the 1980s, everyday New Yorkers, including families with children and business people, had to brave trains covered in graffiti, which were often scenes of violence. The recent wave of crime has worried some that New York could descend to the depths
Riot Police: Above, the NYPD is wearing shields to retake Avenue A during a riot outside Tompkins Square Park in Manhattan’s East Village. The 1988 riot started after police allegedly beat a homeless person; the area was simmering for years when landlords left the building and the park, which has now been restored, was the scene of drug trafficking and violent crime
PROSTITUTES: A sex worker leaves a cab after being threatened with a knife by her pimp. Violence was an occupational hazard for prostitutes and taxi drivers during crime-ridden New York of the 1970s and 1980s, and some are concerned that the pandemic-induced increase in crime in the past year could spiral even further out of control when random New York City Yorkers are being attacked in public
‘It knocked me to the ground. And I was screaming and I was on the floor and said, ‘Oh my god, what just happened?’ ‘
Video of the attack shows a man diving under the railing of a building scaffold before releasing a blow directly on Thomas and throwing her to the ground.
‘All these wonderful people came to help me. Black people, white people – they got me water, they called the police, they called the ambulance – everyone came to help.
“It was very good to know the New Yorkers cared.”
The attacker, who is depicted in a surveillance video and is being searched by the NYPD, was not found.
SUSPECT: Security video shows an unidentified man diving under a rail prior to the attack
WANTED: The attacker walked past Thomas and hit her and knocked her to the ground
Thomas pointed to social problems plaguing New York City as the reason behind her attack.
‘We have a homelessness crisis and it’s getting worse. We have a mental health crisis, not enough resources for poor people. We have racial inequality, we have wealth inequality and people get desperate and they are angry and acting out.
‘This was crazy, this attack. It made no sense. He didn’t say anything to me, he didn’t go for my wallet, nothing. It just turned out in sheer anger and hostility … and I think in this town we need resources to deal with the issues so that people have hope instead of despair. ‘
Thomas also noted how the rationale behind certain attacks has changed over the past 40 years.
AFTERMATH: After the attack, she was bruised and swollen from the suction cup
STAND STRONG: Thomas, however, vows not to be intimidated after the attack. “I don’t give these people any control over my life,” she said in an interview with DailyMail.com
‘I was in here  when I was robbed, ”Thomas said. ‘But that made sense, they wanted money. That was what they were looking for, at least I understood that. ‘
“We used to joke about carrying robber money, so you give the robber $ 20. This is something completely different, this is random violence. It is aimed at different ethnic groups, which is horrifying, because this is a city where many different ethnic groups live peacefully together. ‘
Although the attack was frightening, Thomas indicated that he did not want to live in fear or make changes in her routines
“Even though this has happened, I’m going to do exactly what I’ve done and will continue to do because I don’t give these people power over my life,” Thomas said. “They won’t stop me from going where I want to go, if I want to go there.”
‘This is my city, it is not their city. I refuse to be afraid. I just refuse to let them intimidate me.
The suspect has not been caught, but the police are hoping someone will come forward
Assault aside, when it comes to the most recent crime statistics, there were 99 shooting incidents in March 2021, compared to 56 a year ago, representing an increase of nearly 77 percent.
There were also 492 gun arrests in the city last month, up nearly 67 percent from March 2020.
Thomas is willing to help the police lock up her attacker as soon as they can arrest him.
‘I’m not going anywhere because this happened. And I told the police that if they catch this man, I’m willing to testify. ‘
Thomas sent a message to her attacker, which has yet to be caught.
“You’re a fool, you’re a criminal, you have to be in jail and you need a great psychiatrist.”
Thomas also had a message for concerned residents of the city.
Please don’t be afraid. This is our city. We have to keep it that way. I know this is terrifying, I know this is awful, believe me, I understand that, I understand every time I look at my face.
“But we can’t let fear rule our lives, because then we’ll let them win and we can’t let them win.”
CBS2 reports that the suspect remains at large, but police hope someone will step forward after recognizing the man in the surveillance video.
Meanwhile, Thomas continued her daily life in the aftermath of the attack and even received a COVID-19 vaccine in recent days.
Even as crime was on the rise, Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed optimism at a press conference on Wednesday that other New Yorkers are not currently living in fear.
“I think people are seeing these actions and they know that lasting help is coming,” he said. But New Yorkers don’t live in fear. They keep moving forward. I really believe that. I’ve felt that all my life here. ‘