October 2, 2014
He is not quite Public Enemy No 1 but it might seem like that to 22-year-old Andre Robinson, who on Wednesday morning will face trial in Brooklyn for an alleged act of violence committed back in May that landed him on all the tabloid front pages and stirred a froth of New York indignation.
Mr Robinson, who is accused of wilfully kicking a cat in the gut and sending it flying high over a fence in the public housing project where he lives, is unlucky on two counts. Firstly, the act was caught on video, which he proceeded – most unwisely – to post on Facebook. Secondly, prosecutors all over the US are getting serious about cruelty to animals.
The crackdown has come in part thanks to perseverance of animal rights groups who for years have been pressuring police departments to create special units dedicated to pursuing anyone caught abusing pets or livestock. The NYPD set up its Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad in January, coinciding with the arrival of Bill de Blasio as the city’s new mayor. Pet welfare is apparently higher up his agenda than it was his predecessor’s. Atop the Robinson case is the new Brooklyn District Attorney, Kenneth P Thompson. He told The New York Times that the trouble Mr Robinson finds himself in – he could face a year behind bars if found guilty – is “indicative of my determination to be strong on folks who think they can just abuse any type of animal”.