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Transcript: Mayor Adams Appears On PIX11’s “Morning News At 7”

April 5, 2024

Hazel Sanchez: Crime is down across the city and in the subways based on the latest crime stat reports released by the NYPD.

Dan Mannarino: The battle now is about getting dangerous people off the streets and keeping them off, but also paying close attention to what's happening in our schools. Joining us this morning is Mayor Eric Adams, and he is joined this morning by Queens' high school student, Reem Khalifa, who is taking action against gun violence. Welcome, Mayor Adams and Reem. Good to see you both.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you very much. Reem, thank you for joining us.

Mannarino: Yes. Mr. Mayor, I want to begin with you first because major crime is down across the board, right? Robberies and felony assaults, those are up. Cops just arrested, though, another teenager involved in a wild brawl, which ended in a stabbing in Times Square back in February. As you are really having this education summit today with the youth, how is the city tackling the issue, specifically with youth violence, before the summer comes and we see that uptick in crime that we usually see?

Mayor Adams: It is both reactive and proactive because public safety is not about just how many times you can handcuff a young person, but how many times you could provide them with the services they need. For the first time in history, when I became mayor, we had 100,000 summer youth jobs. We invested in the Summer Rising program and our Midnight Basketball program in our schools, we've opened the school buildings, and we invested over $100 million in our crisis management team.

Having conversations like this, having young people at the table, similar to the youth town halls we held, we are hearing directly from young people, and the items number one and number two in their list, number one is having safe environments in their schools and in their community, and number two is investments in mental health services, like we're doing with TeenSpace.

Sanchez: Let's talk to one of those teens, Reem, 16 years old, a student activist with a group New York City's Students Demand Action. You're looking to bring an end to gun violence, not only in schools, but on the streets. What kind of changes do you want to see in New York City, and how are you helping to make that happen?

Reem Khalifa: Just a little bit about myself. I'm a 16-year-old junior at Stuyvesant. I got involved with the movements on gun violence because of the effect on my community. I grew up in East New York, Brooklyn, and now I live in Jamaica, Queens, and I remember, in middle school, for over a month in sixth grade, we had metal detectors because high schoolers in the building were bringing in and flaunting illegal ghost guns on social media.

Sanchez: Wow.

Khalifa: It felt like me and my peers were seen more as threats than kids just trying to learn, and almost every single New York City teen has experienced some level of threat. Whether it's metal detectors, neighborhood shootings, lockdown drills, our lives as youth have been plagued with living in fear of gun violence, and on New York City Students Demand Action, we're standing against what seems to be our new normal.

One of the reasons why this summit is so important today is because we're not only educating and advocating for these, we're informing people of the cause, and working with politicians, specifically Mayor Adams, who since day one, even though a lot of New Yorkers can disagree on a lot of his other policies, gun violence has been a huge priority. 92 percent of shootings that occur, even though New York City has the fourth lowest gun violence rate in the country and the second strongest gun violence laws, 92 percent of the shootings that do occur are in districts similar to East New York and Jamaica, Queens with high populations of Black and Brown kids.

Since day one, Mayor Adams has been on the ground improving mental health through TeenSpace and also working to build a safer community for all through gun violence prevention programs. Working with us, working with every town, working with the Angellyh Yambo Foundation, who is hosting this summit today. Something like this summit, really important to have.

Mannarino: Important to have a voice like yours at the table. At 16 years old, you certainly are the future of this city. Reem, good luck today with the summit. You're going to have a seat at the table with Mr. Mayor, so it's good to have you here this morning, and good luck today. Okay?

Khalifa: Appreciate it. So nice to speak to you.

Mannarino: All right.

Sanchez: Thanks for taking the time.

Mannarino: Mr. Mayor, you're not going anywhere. We want to talk to you right now about some off-topic issues. You knew we were going to go there—

Mayor Adams: I always like talking to you guys.

Mannarino: What?

Sanchez: He always likes talking to us.

Mayor Adams: I always love talking to you.

Mannarino: I know you do. You just heard from Reem talk about mental health. Let's go there for a second before we get to the migrant issue, because she just talked about mental health. Mental health really— We had the NYPD here earlier this week talking about in the subways, removal of mental health, mentally ill people in the subways, which is really causing this perception of crime and unsafe conditions in the subway. When you remove them, where do they go, and do they stay there, or they put back onto the streets then go back down to the subways?

Mayor Adams: That's a great question. That's part of the collaboration we need from Albany. Here's what we noticed when we first came into office. Someone is dealing with an extreme mental health issue or they're having a crisis moment. We bring them inside, we give them medication for the day, and then we place them back out in the street. We keep doing that revolving-door action until they participate in a criminal act and then we send them to Rikers Island for the most part.

50 percent of the people on Rikers Island are dealing with severe mental health illnesses or mental health illnesses, 18 percent are dealing with severe. Our system is a broken system of just really kicking the can down the road until that can damages or kills someone. What we are saying, allow us to stabilize this person, give them the wraparound services they need, open more psychiatric beds so that we can give people community care and support, and this way, we won't have this revolving door that we're witnessing.

Sanchez: All right. Let's switch gears real quick. Talking about the migrant arrests in the Bronx as the sanctuary city and the NYPD can't cooperate with immigration officials, even if they have a criminal history. What is it going to take to amend the sanctuary city laws in order to change, and do you think it should change?

Mayor Adams: Yes. I made public of my views, it's up to the City Council to do an analysis and determine. The sanctuary cities conversation, we really need to separate it from the migrant and asylum seekers because migrants and the asylum seekers are legally in the city. Sanctuary cities are for those who are undocumented and are illegally living in the city, but what we need do, in my opinion, is to modify the sanctuary city law that was put in place back when Koch was mayor, but changed under the previous administration, modify so someone who's a repeated offender of a violent crime, we could collaborate with ICE after they serve their time, they can be deported from our city. I don't believe people who come to our city and receive the benefits of our city, if they are violent and committing violent acts in the city, they should be deported from our city.

Mannarino: The ICE director was just on yesterday talking about how he didn't find out about the Bronx situation for over a week because there's no collaboration because of the sanctuary laws. We're out of time here, but I want to ask you about squatter laws, there is a bill now on the floor of City Council to change squatters' rights. Do you support the bill?

Mayor Adams: I sat down with some council members that introduced that bill. I don't believe a person should be in someone's home and staying there without contributing into what it costs to be in that home, particularly for small property homeowners. I'm going to look at the bill, but in concept, I think they're moving in the right direction.

Sanchez: All right, Mr. Mayor, thank you for your time this morning. We appreciate it.

Mayor Adams: Thank You. Take care.

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