May 11, 2023
Mayor Eric Adams: Good morning. Today, we're holding hearings on two bills that help sporting venues raise money for charitable means and train our NYPD officers on how to interact with New Yorkers with autism spectrum disorder. Both two important bills, particularly the one around autism spectrum disorder. Police officers having the proper training on dealing with these encounters is so important. And the more knowledge they have, the easier it is to do that. And I noticed Lucina Clarke is here from My Time Inc. She has been a real advocate for children and families that are dealing with autism.
New York City has some of the greater sporting teams. We saw that last night when the Knicks came back to a victory, but we believe that we should show a greater level of support, when you have thousands of people in a stadium, to use a nonprofit way of raising money for nonprofits or using some form of raffling system to do that. So today, we are stepping up to the plate and making it easier for the Yankees, the Mets, and others to team up with charitable organizations to raise money for New Yorkers. Intro 891 allows city sporting venues to conduct 50/50 raffles and games of chance at their venues, helping them raise thousands of dollars for charities. It's a great way of raising money for charity and we're looking forward to doing this.
Now, just like our sports team, NYPD officers are here for the community. Our second bill that we're looking at is dealing with the interactions with those with autism, as I indicated. And today, we are giving our NYPD officers the tools they need to serve our neighbors with autism spectrum disorder. Intro 273-B ensures that NYPD officers receive training related to reorganizing and interacting with individuals with autism spectrum disorder. And I really want to thank all of our partners that were involved in both these bills, Councilmember Narcisse is the sponsor of intro 273-B. So I want to turn it over to her for a moment to speak and to go into the bill.
City Councilmember Mercedes Narcisse: Thank you. Good morning, everyone. Like I said on the floor, everyone needs training. As a nurse, I had to be trained all the time, whatever medication is new, and I have to train on every equipment. So first and foremost, I have to say thank you for everyone that involved that make it possible for me to be here. Praise to God that we get to an understanding that we have to be here and do the best we can. The speaker of the Council, Adrienne A. Adams, that let me able to bring this bill and, of course, the mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, to understand what's going on in our city. And my two colleagues, Millie, and of course, Hanks, my sister.
When we lead with kindness and compassion, our city moves in the right direction. Today, with the signing Intro 273, we are doing just that. There are more than 300,000 New Yorkers on the autism spectrum and the number of New Yorkers with autism spectrum disorder is on the rise. New Yorkers with autism spectrum disorder have unique needs and, at times, their behavior and mannerisms can be misinterpreted as an act of aggression or non-compliance.
While I wish trend mental health professionals could be on the scenes as first responders to all calls, involving people with autism spectrum disorder or mental health issues, for that matter, until we increase funding for those services, the NYPD will continue to be the primary first responders. And even with a fully functioning mental health respond team, police interactions with New Yorkers with autism spectrum disorder are inevitable. To that point, we must adequately train officers to increase their recognition of autistic behaviors and help avoid misinterpretation and escalation during these potentially severely traumatizing interactions.
This new law will fully train our police officers on how best to approach and engage with people on the autism spectrum. This will lead to safer outcomes for all parties involved. I thank the mayor again for signing this bill today and put it into law. And I have to say thank you to my constituents, my friends, my colleagues, Ms. Clarke and the husband. My Time Inc. been very involved. And right now, they're in my office once a month to educate the parents. Actually, I love it because the parents say they welcome it, the full understanding and support. And I'll have to say thanks to Adapt Community Network for being a partner. YIA, thank you. Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, thank you. So thank you, my mayor for signing this. Thank you.
Mayor Adams: Thank you very much. And wanted to also thank the speaker, Councilmember Salamanca, for the bill around holding games of chance and, of course, public safety chair, Councilwoman Hanks. I want to now invite the public for comments.
Okay. Nolan doesn't have a comment on these bills? [Laughter.]
And we're going to now sign a bill, but I do want to pause for a moment and really thank, as you indicated, Lucina Clarke, just unsung hero, her and her husband, around children and families with autism. I think it's a story that has yet to be told, how she has been addressing this issue back in the days when I was state senator. She has really provided a safe space for these families. I believe, behind every child with special needs, there is a special parent that they want the same things for their children. And so I want to thank you, Lucina, for your work and continue to lift you up as you continue to do the work. Let's sign these bells. Lucina, why don't you join us?
Question: I'll just ask, I was curious what specifically the training entails for police officers. And because there's such a spectrum for neurodivergent people, what does that look like?
Councilmember Narcisse: It's how [crosstalk]. Actually, the interaction was more important than ever for us because we see what happen in many cases, people with autism. And recently, we see the case that happened in the train station, as well. And then he had history of being autistic, as well.
So if I may say that, if you have to interact with someone, and most of the time as a nurse for over three decades, I can tell you the first thing autistic folks tend to do is just… and putting their hands down or even in their pocket. So if the police trained to understand the mannerism, that's a start. To understand what to expect next step, and not to be afraid because when they put their hands in their pocket, most of the time they don't have anything in their pocket. It's just because I'm scared. It's more than I'm scared for you coming to me than I want to hurt you. So the aggression can be seen if you don't understand it. And that's the first step.
That's the one big step we are making by officers, because it's a safety issue for both sides. For the person that you're dealing with and as well as the police officer. Like I said in my statement, many times when we press 911, the police officer are the one that going to arrive first on the scene. So to make sure that they understand, and the training will be continuous. But my understanding it's not just one training and that's it, it's a continuous training for police officer to understand what to expect.
And let's say the person have something in their hand, it's not they're going to throw it at you. It's more like, I want to hold this to be secure. So that's what the training is. I hope I answered your question. Thank you.
Mayor Adams: Very good point. Yeah, don't forget your bill.
Question: Hi. I was wondering what your understanding was for what happened with the Biden Advisory Council, like why your name appeared in March and then disappeared when the announcement was made.
Mayor Adams: Well, I think that there were a bunch of names that on the initial release are not on the current one, and they could be doing this in phases, rollout. I think the only story that people wrote was Eric's name, but if you do an analysis of the initial and current, you'll see there are a couple of names. So I don't know what their plans are, but let's be clear, Biden is my guy. I want Biden to be the next president, be reelected. I made that clear. And people look at the issues around asylum seekers. Listen, I don't agree with myself all the time. In those areas that I disagree, I'm going to say so.
And that's the type of friend you want. You don't want a friend that's going to agree with you just to agree. You want a friend that is going to be honest and candid. And I've made it clear, no matter what committee I am on, there's only one committee that means the most to me, and that's the committee of the mayor of the City of New York. I'm going to speak on behalf of this city that I was elected to serve. And so I think that our relationship is a good one. And I think if you ask him, he'll tell you, Eric is my guy. We have a good relationship. I like him and I think he likes me also.
Question: Mr. Mayor, you're clearly a man who cares about the homeless. You go out and you feed them every single week. Yet, I wonder how you felt when you had to sign this executive order which changed New York City's right-to-shelter, and whether it was a difficult decision for you because you are a man of compassion, but at the same time you're pushed to the edge because the city doesn't have enough shelter. What's going on in your head and why did you have to sign it?
Mayor Adams: I think that's a great point. What's fascinating is that people who notice homeless people during a crisis, I had noticed them to prevent the crisis. Some of the loudest voices right now were MIA. When I'm in the subway system talking to people who are homeless to try to get them inside week after week after week. They're just not there. When I'm on 34th Street, not only feeding the homeless, sometime my team come and join me after our hours, and then talking to those that we identify on the line who are dealing with mental health illness, we go and we talk and we interact and we tell them about the services. They're not there. When Norman Siegel put out a call for volunteers to come out and help on the street, they're not there. And so you can't all of a sudden be so vociferous when it is time to give people the services they need, you are nowhere there.
And what's really is noticeable to me, the overwhelming number of people who are living in our subway system and on the streets are Black and brown. So to not be there to be preventive, I think it's hypocritical. And so this was a difficult decision for me because I'm not removed from this problem. I shared with many of you how in January, February I went out there, I went into those camps, I went into those cardboard boxes and what I saw was really disheartening. And so we have to make a tough decision on how do we ensure we balance the needs of New Yorkers and not be treated the way we have.
Commissioner Castro and I traveling down to El Paso, sleeping in the HEERCs, going to the volunteer locations. This has been a year of my life that after I finish my mayoral duties, I go to those who are migrant seekers, hurt, homeless, mental health. This is what I do and I don't see others doing it. And I think that's the question that should be asked. Those who are the loudest right now, we should ask them, how many times have you been in the subway system talking to people who are dealing with clear mental health illnesses?
There was a picture in today's New York Post, I believe it was The Post, of a man standing there completely with just his shorts on. It's clear something is wrong with him. I talk to those folks and I don't see everyone else doing that. And so when I'm at the feeding line on Wednesdays at 9, the first day I was there, people thought I was just showing up for the day. And now that they see me consistently, they come and they talk to me and they say, "Mayor, I'm hearing noises. I'm seeing things." I feel as though for a couple of things, because I built trust. I don't know who else is building trust.
And so this was a hard decision, but it's the right decision, that this is just wrong what is happening to New York City. It's wrong and no one seems to care, but I care. And it was a challenging thing to do, but we're doing the right thing. No one thought about a humanitarian crisis when they first took this court case of right-to-shelter. Do you know last week we got 4,200 people? We get in an average of 500 people a day and Title 42 is not lifted. We could potentially get thousands of people a day in our city. It's wrong for those who are coming here like Commissioner Castro, and it's wrong for New Yorkers who are here.
Question: Hi, Mayor Adams.
Mayor Adams: Yes.
Question: And on that, I know Legal Aid was warning that by waiving certain protections under the right-to-shelter law, you could potentially put children at risk of staying in congregate intake shelters. And there were some concerns about that. I wanted to get your take on putting children in congregate shelters and the concerns around that. And I know there's a larger crisis, so just want to speak why that wouldn't be an issue.
Mayor Adams: And I respect the role that Legal Aid play and matter of fact, Manny, why don't you join me up here. I respect the role that Legal Aid plays. They have a role. We don't always agree, and I think we should do it without being disagreeable. Just raise their issues. We're going to raise our issues. And the part of the law that states, every family must have a kitchen and a bathroom. My son went to college in a dorm. He didn't have his own kitchen and bathroom and he still did a great job. So that's just not realistic when you're getting 4,200 people in your city that you're going to find a place with kitchen and a bathroom.
Our desire is not to put the children and families in dormitory settings. Our desire is to manage a humanitarian crisis. And when you look at the law, what it was designed to do during that time had nothing to do with getting 4,200 people in a week. We have an 83 percent increase in our shelter system in the year, 83 percent. And so we need to all come to the table and say, let's reexamine the laws to see how do we adjust to this issue. And so we want to make sure people are safe, unlike El Paso. Our children and families are not sleeping on the streets. We are feeding thousands of people, over 60,000 that came through our system. Laundry service. The children are being educated. Medical service, mental health support, legal advice. What we're doing is unprecedented to any other municipality. When we spoke to our mayors from the other cities, some of them say, "We no longer giving beds, we just going to give a chair." We're leading the way.
If we have to re-examine the law to make it adjust to the real life humanitarian crisis we have, then we have to do that.
Mayor Adams: I would've called you, but you called Joe.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. How are you?
Mayor Adams: How are you? Those are some cool shoes, man.
Question: I wanted to ask you about some of your efforts to your local decompression strategy. You're trying to send some of the migrants who volunteer to locations in the Hudson Valley. You've gotten pushback. In some cases, some restraining orders have been issued.
I was wondering if you could address, what are your thoughts about some of the officials up there who have rejected your efforts and can you give us any updates about talks with the governor, who seems to be playing a mediating role here and some of the officials up there?
Mayor Adams: Yes, and we must be clear on what we're doing because some people try to compare it to what Abbott did. We're paying for it. We are only taking volunteers. We are communicating with the officials up there on what we're doing. Now, some may not like it, but people can't say we're not communicating. Abbott did not pay. Abbott compelled people. I remember reading a New York Post article of a 9/11 call that's saying that people were being held on buses. That's not what we're doing.
We are coordinating, explaining to our colleagues in the state that this is a statewide issue. It's not like New York just all of a sudden said, "We're just going to send people and transport to some other municipalities." We're coordinating with others and it took us over a year because we tried to hold on and do this the best we can on our own.
What we're sending is a quarter of 1 percent of what we have, a quarter of 1 percent. When you look at the county exec, Day, I mean this guy has a record of being anti-Semitic. His racist comments, his thoughts, and how he responded to this really it shows a lack of leadership. I thought he was the Texas governor the way he acted. We're going to continue to do, we're going to challenge the legal challenges and we're going to continue to pursue. You can't use the courts to deny people to move around the State of New York.
Question: Do you guys plan to appeal the restraining orders that have been placed? Can you appeal them? What are the next steps?
Mayor Adams: Yeah, we're going to challenge all of the legal obstacles that are attempting to be placed in our way. We are going to challenge them because it will set a bad precedent. If someone is saying in the State of New York that you are not allowed to come here, that's just a bad precedent.
Question: If we can switch topics just very quickly. We had a story in the paper yesterday about how Jordan Neely was allowed to walk out of his court ordered mental therapy program. It was part of a plea deal just after spending two weeks there. One, do you think that's acceptable? And two, how should the system be fixed?
Mayor Adams: What was the first one you said? You said, do you think I...
Question: I said, one is that the way the system should work, that a plea deal is voluntary and thus the treatment is voluntary, or should the system be changed? And if so, how?
Mayor Adams: Yeah, no, no. Remember November when I rolled out our second phase of involuntary removal. I think folks should go back and read those articles. I mean, the things I was being called when I was saying people who are dealing with this severe mental health illness can't make the determination what type of care they want. When we rolled this out, everyone was attacking us just about that everyone wants to round up anyone with a mental health issue and forcibly remove them. We said no. There were some clear parameters. Severe mental health illness and you are in danger to yourself.
If we get the state to codify what the courts have already said, that we could hold a person there by doing an involuntary admittance to the psychiatric care they deserve until they stabilize. It can't be that, okay, I'm all right for this moment. No, it takes a while to know if you're stabilized. That's what we're pushing for and we're hoping that we can get the Kendra's Law to be adjusted to give people the clear understanding that if this person is dealing with a major mental health illness where they can't take care of themselves and they're in danger to themselves, that we are allowed to keep them and give them the services that they need.
That is what we pushed for last year, and it's a small number of people. Because it was reported today in the paper about the 38 people we did an involuntary removal and only 31 stayed. We've always said it's a small number of people. It's not everyone that's on the train talking to themselves or walking the street that's talking to themselves. I walk the street and talk to myself. It is dealing with this severe mental illness that we need to apply this level of the law.
Question: Mr. Mayor, there's a portion of the executive order that suspends tenant protections for people staying in hotels and there's another list over 30 days. Does that just apply to the migrants in the hotels or are you applying that everywhere?
Mayor Adams: That's a great question. Of my understanding and we'll have the corp counsel to answer, my understanding is dealing with the hotels. We're not looking to take away the tenant protection for people who are renters and there for over 30 days. We want to expand the amount of money we're spending in hotels.
I would love to say we can give this to single family or double family homes, multi-family homes I should say. So that struggling New Yorkers who are struggling to pay their mortgage, paying their rent, it's a win-win. If we could say, okay, Ms. Johnson, you have an apartment in your home. We're looking to fill with asylum seekers, or you may have a spare bedroom. I would love to be able to say, instead of paying $350 a night to a hotel to be able to pay to those struggling everyday New Yorkers, but the 30-day squatters right impacts that.
If we could have a special provision that allows us to deal with this migrant crisis, I think it's a win-win. We're able to go to everyday people who are struggling, New Yorkers, give them the opportunity to house those migrants and asylum seekers and help them with their rent and payment.
This would help them get indoctrinated into society. I think nothing is better if you are from Venezuela, a Spanish-speaking person that's trying to learn English, trying to navigate the city. If you are able to stay with another Spanish-speaking resident who could help you, who can actually help you navigate this system, that's the relationship that we're looking to develop. By suspending this, we are not going after hurting the law that's in place to protect tenants, but to give us another tool to address this issue.
Question: Given the resistance from the counties like Rockland or Orange County, would you like more support from Governor Hochul, not only publicly in terms of speech, but also the state space that you have been asking so much? Same as Commissioner Castro in terms of space to work with the situation. Would you like to see more support, especially maybe arbitrary the situation with the other counties too?
Mayor Adams: Yeah, we could always use more support, but she has been a partner and I cannot thank her enough. The billion dollars, a little over a billion dollars we get in the budget, what she has done with the National Guards. I think right now we need to coordinate the state and we are holding a meeting this afternoon with our county executives and our mayors and others throughout the state and try to really compel them to say, we need your help.
New York City, New York City is the economic engine of the state and this can undermine our financial stability. I've stated this over and over again, we're not crying wolf. We've done such a great job in managing this that I think sometimes people think it's not in your face, so you don't believe this is a crisis, but it is. This is a crisis not only for the...
Mayor Adams: This is a crisis not only for the city, but also for those who came here to pursue the American dream. It's unfair that they've been treated this way, and I think no one understands this better than our commissioner, dreamer. And so you may want to respond to that question a little.
Commissioner Manuel Castro, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs: Thank you, mayor. And I did want to provide some remarks ahead of the lifting of Title 42, which occurs tonight. And I think it's an important moment for our city to reflect on what's happened in the last year.
Again, the steps that we're taking has nothing to do with us not wanting to help people. In fact, we've, as you know, have helped over 60,000 asylum seekers in the last year. And I learned that that is more population than the average town anywhere in the United States. So put that into perspective.
We've been doing this, while at the same time pushing back on xenophobia, bigotry coming from Governor Abbott, Governor DeSantis, and now unfortunately these county executives. All this, while unfortunately the federal government has stood by and not provided the support that New York City deserves and needs.
I do want to say that, as a New Yorker, as an immigrant who crossed the border as a child, like many of the children arriving to the city, I want to thank Mayor Adams for this leadership. This is the kind of leadership we need, not just in the city, but nationally. And I speak with the immigrant community, I speak with asylum seekers and people across the country and they couldn't agree with us more. This is not about the asylum seekers that are arriving. Mayor Adams has said this over and over again. This is a crisis that has resulted in inaction by our national government. And I won't get into this because I... you know?
But again, the actions that we're taking now with this executive order has nothing to do with us not wanting to help people, we'll continue to help asylum seekers, but it's more that we no longer can physically accommodate people that request emergency shelter. Without emergency shelter space provided outside the city, asylum seekers that show up to New York City today, tomorrow, in the coming days and weeks, might end up in the street and that is not something we want to see. That is not right. That is not something we want to happen, so we need other locations to step up.
And look, we've heard from people in these other locations that want to support, and I think it's just the right thing to do. New York State, it needs to be a shared responsibility. There are 62 counties in New York State, we think everyone can play a role here. Thank you so much.
Question: Mayor, Governor Hochul, in the last several days has talked about the fact that she's been working with you and city officials to identify other locations and other facilities. I wonder if you can tell us some of the things you've talked about. Whether you've talked about empty hangers at the airports, whether you've talked about military bases, whether you've talked about other cities or towns that might be willing to help out. And what is she going to do to push this forward as the city is faced with no room at the end?
Mayor Adams: Yes, we have, everything is on the table. I walked inside the former police academy where I got my training and looked at that gym that I used to run around and do my calisthenics, and I saw cots. I think it was Sunday, Commissioner Iscol called me around 1 am in the morning and say we literally don't have any more hotel spaces. And I met him over there at the former police academy. We had to open up, we have to pivot and shift.
So if we use a hanger, we could use a warehouse space that can convert, we have to just use spaces. So she has looked at a couple of spaces that we need, the state, Floyd Bennett Field, Creedmoor, wherever. Everything is on the table.
When you give 4,200 people in one week, 4,200 people in one week, I mean, that is an oh-shucks-moment. And I'm only saying shucks because I'm being televised. Listen, that's scary. And Title 42 has not been lifted yet.
Question: Mayor Adams, I wanted to go back to your remarks on Jordan Neely's killing. I know you focused a lot on his mental health challenges and some of the services, but it was ultimately a chokehold that killed him, a chokehold from another straphanger. Do you think Daniel Penny, who I know you didn't mention in yesterday's speech, you didn't mention how he died or whose hands he died as the cause of, do you think that that was an appropriate reaction from a fellow straphanger to someone who didn't seem to have a weapon, to someone who's experiencing a mental health crisis on a subway car?
Mayor Adams: I think it's important not to interfere as the mayor of the city and those parts that the Police Department has yet to take their action. The police respond to me. And I don't want, if this case goes to trial or anywhere further, I don't want someone talk about changing venues, that the police may have tainted when he was at the police force under one of his agencies. I dealt with the things that are within my span of control that I've been advocating for from the day one that I got in office. And the DA will make the determination on how to handle this case. And I respect that. I respect DA Bragg, his job on what he has to do. I need to prevent.
And let's be clear, let's be honest, there are more Jordans out there. I said this over and over again. I see them, I talk to them, I interact with them. And so we need to make sure we prevent these things from happening. That is within my span of control.
Question: Mr. Mayor, one more.
Mayor Adams: One moment.
Question: The Police Department's control guide bans the use of chokeholds. Is the chokehold ever appropriate?
Mayor Adams: Where if the Police Department bans it, then the police officers must follow that rule. So I cannot be hypothetical on when it's appropriate or not. I know it's banned in the police department and the police department follows that rule.
Question: Thanks, Mr. Mayor.