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War, Migrants, Mayoral Investigation Take Center Stage at NYC’s Weekly Media Scrum

Published: November 15, 2023
New York City Mayor, Eric Adams, and senior staff, hold their weekly in-person media availability session on Nov. 14, 2023 in New York City. (Image: Kyle Li/Vision Times)

On Nov. 14, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, along with several others from his administration, held their weekly in-person media availability meeting covering a wide range of topics including the impact the Israeli-Palestinian war is having on New Yorkers, the city’s efforts to manage the migrant crisis and the federal investigation into the mayor’s 2021 campaign finances. 

In his opening remarks, Adams said that “the incident that played out in Israel has really impacted this city. I say over and over again, this is an international city and things that happen across the globe, they play out in the City of New York.”

He stressed that “this is not a conflict between Jews and Muslims, but we know it can take a toll on our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters and others who feel their pain.”

In recent weeks, following the terrorist attack by Hamas on southern Israel last month, the streets of New York have been packed with protesters, snarling traffic and in one incident, Palestinian supporters stormed the offices of the New York Times and smeared fake blood on the building’s facade. 

Adams said that over 120 “large” demonstrations have occurred in the city since the attack that have resulted in “terrible incidents” including the breaking of a police window and other vandalism like graffiti and lauded the work the police department has done to manage the disruptions.  

“Since [the] October 7th terrorist attacks, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in hate crimes against our Jewish and Muslim communities,” Adams said. “Not only as physical assaults are up in these communities, but the terminology, many of you heard it, you covered it, you hear some of the words that are being hurled at individuals.”

“This is not who we are as a city,” Adams insisted. 

In an attempt to address the conflict playing out on the streets of New York, Adams said he recently held an “amazing” round table discussion with the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities.

“We all want peace, yes, for Israel and Palenstinians abroad, but we also want it here in New York City,” Hizzoner said. 

“This is what we want to continue to do and show our leadership in the real way as we see the increase in displays of hate against not only my Palestinian New Yorkers, our Jewish New Yorkers, but even what we saw among our Sikh New Yorkers as well and other groups,” he said. 


New York’s migrant crisis

Several media members present inquired about the city’s migrant crisis, with questions focused on the controversial Floyd Bennett Field migrant tent facility which was erected to house upwards of 2,000 migrants. 

Thousands of migrants are still arriving in the Big Apple weekly. 

Adams said the facility was primarily erected to house “new arrivals” and that going forward any new migrant seeking asylum would be housed at the facility. 

“Some people were disappointed in that. Some people wanted to find their own way instead of being at Floyd Bennett Field,” he said. “But the reality is, I say over and over again, over 50 percent of the people who came through our process, over 50 percent of them are self-sustaining.”

Deputy Mayor Fabien Levy said, “And so our intention for Floyd Bennett Field, which is a semi-congregate setting for families with children, is that it is to be for new arrivals,” adding that, “A part of the reason that we wanted it to be for new arrivals is so that we avoid the issue where you have student[s] that are already enrolled in a school at one location, they then move to Floyd Bennett Field and then the Department of Education has to figure out how to get those children back to their original school if that’s where they choose to stay.”

Many migrants, upon first glance at the facility, are refusing to stay there due, in part, to its remote location.

In addition, the use of the term “semi-congregate setting” is a slight change in terminology from the Adams administration previous messaging as housing children in “congregate settings” is illegal under the state’s right-to-shelter mandate. 

Levy added, “…over 210 sites have been built, over 142,000 asylum seekers have come to our city and we are doing the best we can with very limited resources,” adding that it will cost the city an astonishing $12 billion over the next three fiscal years to manage the crisis.

The Adams administration says it is continuing to lobby the federal government for more resources. 


A mayor under investigation

Amongst the competing crises, the investigation into the mayor’s last campaign by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was not ignored. 

The FBI and New York City federal prosecutors are currently investigating whether or not Adams’ 2021 campaign received illegal foreign donations, with particular focus on his relationship with Turkish officials. 

On Nov. 6, the FBI searched the home of Adams’ chief fundraiser, Brianna Suggs, who raised more than $18 million for his election campaign, and around the same time seized phones and an iPad from Adams.

Adams has not been charged with any crime.

“The mayor immediately complied with the FBI’s request and provided them with electronic devices,” Boyd Johnson, Adams’ attorney reportedly said after the seizure. “The mayor has not been accused of any wrongdoing and continues to cooperate with the investigation,” Johnson added.

At the scrum, Lisa Zornberg, Chief Counsel to the Mayor and City Hall said, “Let [investigators] see it through so that justice can prevail,” adding that, “We’re going to continue to cooperate, but we are not going to impede a federal investigation. Let it take its course, but not in the course of the press.”