The Missing: Longtime Harlem politician Bill Perkins found safe after vanishing

HARLEM, Manhattan (PIX11) — Veteran Harlem politician William “Bill” Perkins was found safe after briefly going missing, the NYPD said Wednesday morning.

Perkins, who recently lost his City Council seat after questions were raised about his ability to serve, disappeared from his Harlem home Tuesday afternoon, police originally said.

His wife told police that Perkins, 72, suffers from dementia and “she last saw him in the kitchen” of their home on Morningside Avenue.

It was the first, known, public acknowledgement from the family of Perkins’ cognitive difficulties, which were raised during his failed run for re-election in Harlem’s 9th City Council District last year.

The NYPD said Perkins was reunited with his family Wednesday after being located in good condition.

Perkins lost the race to Kristin Richardson Jordan, after serving in public life since 1998. His term just came to an end on Dec. 31, 2021.

Born and raised in Harlem, Perkins has spent decades in the public eye as a vocal activist, a presence at the Central Park jogger trial in the late 1980s involving the Exonerated Five.

He received a scholarship to the Collegiate School and graduated from Ivy-league Brown University.

Perkins fought hard for protections against lead poisoning in children.

He first served in the City Council in 1998, resigning in 2005 to take the State Senate seat left vacated by David Paterson, when Paterson assumed the post of Lieutenant Governor with then-Governor Eliot Spitzer.

Perkins served ten years in the State Senate, before going back to the City Council’s 9th District in 2017, winning a special election.

According to a report in The City, colleagues in the Council and other political associates raised red flags about Perkins’ memory issues for a number of years.

Syderia Asberry-Chresfield of the Greater Harlem Coalition was quoted, saying she noticed a cognitive decline in Perkins a couple of years ago.

“Perkins didn’t remember some of his past accomplishments,” Asberry-Chresfield told The City. “He couldn’t grasp the information.”

In the 2000’s, Perkins was diagnosed with colon cancer but apparently recovered. The City said he was hospitalized for erratic behavior two years ago.

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