Fans of Michael Imperioli know him from his role in HBO's "The Sopranos" and the popular podcast he co-hosts about the series. Now he's speaking out about rising crime and homelessness in the city.
Imperioli is focusing on his neighborhood of the Upper West Side but is quick to point out that the problem is citywide. Over the weekend, he took aim at the mayor on Instagram.
Using a photo of Mayor Bill de Blasio he began with an all caps caption, “WHAT’S THE PLAN BILL?” and then went on to ask, “As the Upper West Side turns into a violent, crime ridden insane asylum/ outdoor bar/ shooting gallery, crackhouse and toilet, where are all the new non-police systems and departments that are supposed to deal with drugs, mental illness, alcoholism and the homeless ???? Where’s your compassion? You are not helping the mentally ill, addicts and alcoholics by letting them be and not getting them the treatment they deserve.”
In his Instagram post, Imperioli also asked about suffering business owners and where the billion dollars from the NYPD budget was going.
In an exclusive interview with NY1, the Sopranos actor said he'd been driven to speak out because friends in his UWS neighborhood asked him to use his platform to get the message out, saying they are afraid and frustrated and do not see any leadership from the mayor.
"People are traumatized over the last months of covid and you know protests and looting and whatever people have been afraid of. People have lost loved ones. People have died. They’re traumatized and I don’t see a plan,” said Imperioli.
“And I don’t see the mayor taking the bull by the horns. I don’t see his presence in the neighborhood. I got to Manhattan in 1983 and it was very dangerous in certain places in this city. I just hear from all my friends how they just feel like there’s this decline,” he continued.
He highlighted the large number of mentally ill homeless people who don't seem to be getting treatment, saying people should have compassion for the mentally ill, and that the city needs more leadership in caring for that population.
"This is not just an UWS problem, it’s citywide. I saw severely mentally ill people, some of them very agitated and aggressive all over the city. There’s big Thrive New York initiatives. I don’t know how effective — it doesn’t seem like it’s effective — because there were more mentally ill people on the streets than I’ve ever seen and it’s not compassionate to not allow them to be not treated,” Imperioli said.
“And I think it’s also unfair to the residents who are trying to go about their lives as well and they’re afraid and a lot of people don’t know what to do and there’s not a lot of leadership in this area,” he added.
In terms of whether or not he would leave the city, he said he’s a firm believer in the resiliency of New Yorkers. He’s been splitting time between New York and California, but this fall he’s moving back full-time to the Upper West Side where he rents an apartment. What he really wants to see is strong leadership.