On September 20th around 8:17 AM a northbound A train at the 14th Street stop was derailed. The reason, a man was hurling debris onto the tracks and it not only caused a derailment, but a loss of power on all four tracks. The person responsible for the incident was Demetrius Harvard (30). He had an incident earlier this month of busting out a buses window and he missed a court date from an incident back in March of this year. At his arraignment where bail was set for $50,000 cash, Judge Paul Mcdonald noted that he had a bench warrant for over a year and failed to show up to 4 different court appearances. Harvard screamed in the court “My phone was stolen. I have a new phone now. My MotherF***** phone was stolen. I want my cases”. He has been arrested around 18 times. The average person or criminal is not actively walking around breaking up MTA property.

One woman told the Daily News that she did not want to be identified. She stated that he had a harsh home life and that he had lots of mental health issues.

Is prison still the way we deal with mental health issues? Why is this issue being ignored? Are people not aware that Covid19 has put a stress on this whole country, especially those who have mental health problems? In multiple surveys we found related to Covid19 and mental health, the numbers were a consistent 40% of participants confirming they had a mental health incident this year.

In June of this year Rashid Brimmage (31) around the same age as Demetrius Harvard was arrested for pushing a 92 year old woman into a fire hydrant. His lawyer and a social worker tried to explain the mental health issues he has had since 18 and the the prosecutor suggested he get mental health treatment in jail.

Rashid Brimmage

Are our prison facilities equipped to deal with mental health issues and violent criminals at the same time?

In NYC, Mayor Bill de Blasio helped fund a program called Thrive NYC which is run by his wife Chirlane McCray. The organization has received over $1 billion dollars after being assigned an original budget of $850 million dollars. Thrive NYC home page states “The Mayors office of ThriveNYC promotes mental health for all New Yorkers” and yet they have not spoken out about these incidents in a relation to mental health.

During the Covid19 pandemic referrals to mental health facilities are down 30% could that be a correlation to why it seems we are avoiding more and more people on the trains, buses and in the streets? How long will New Yorkers ignore the sad truth that you see multiple people with mental health issues everyday. The truth is they can be reached and properly diagnosed before their pushing a 91 year old on the ground, before they are derailing trains, before their on the train screaming to the themselves during your commute home or before it gets to a level of discomfort we can no longer handle.

Sources:

  1. KFF https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/
  2. Daily News –https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-subway-derailment-demetrius-harvard-rapsheet-20200921-w6a3iywbcbcabc6micweak4juy-story.html
  3. ThriveNYC – https://thrivenyc.cityofnewyork.us/

4. CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/covid19/pulse/mental-health.htm

5. Ophthalmology Times –https://www.ophthalmologytimes.com/view/covid-19-linked-to-an-increase-in-mental-health-issues

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