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Transcript: Mayor Eric Adams Appears Live on NY1's Mornings on 1

May 16, 2023

Jamie Stelter: As we've been reporting, there is growing outrage from some parents over the city's plan to temporarily house migrants in school buildings. New York 1 has learned that migrants are being sent to at least six public schools in Brooklyn, in addition to one former school on Staten Island. A number of parents with students at the school say they are concerned with the safety of their children, as well as possible learning disruptions. And they're expected to voice their concern this morning, with rallies scheduled outside three schools in Brooklyn. 

This comes as New York 1 has learned that Mayor Adams has renewed his executive order suspending components of the city's Right to Shelter law for another five day period. Mayor Adams is with us this morning from City Hall to discuss this ongoing crisis. Mr. Mayor, welcome back to the program.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you so much. And I think the most important thing you said during that conversation opening is ongoing crisis. I've been talking about this for a little over a year now, that New York City is being overwhelmed by the financial and number burden associated with the national problem that has been placed on New Yorker's laps.

Stelter: I want to talk about the cover of the New York Post this morning. The headline is “Kids Sacrificed.” Parents at PS 172 say they don't want to bring their kids to school as long as there are grown men in the gym. There are rallies today as well, as you know. What's your message to these parents this morning?

Mayor Adams: Well, first, each gym, the 20 gyms that we are looking at, we have not made a final determination on all the gyms, but that we are looking at are separate from the actual school buildings. They are independent from the school buildings. They're not in the buildings the schools are. And we have an order, almost an order of where we have to go as the crisis continues of — this is one of the last places we want to look at. None of us are comfortable with having to take these drastic steps. But I could not have been more clear for the last few months of what we are facing. Over 65,000 migrant asylum seekers have reached our city.

Stelter: No, it's a lot. And it seems like you're not getting any help. Nassau County says they won't help. Orange and Rockland Counties already pushed back and said, no, they won't help either. And in fact, they're going to fine people for helping if they do in their areas. It feels like you're boxed in on all sides here by these nos. Is there any relief that Albany or the governor can provide for you?

Mayor Adams: Well, as you know, the governor has been a partner. She has allocated a billion dollars in this current budget cycle, but this is a $4.3 billion problem. And clearly, we saw what happened with the dollars that came from FEMA, over $30 billion that we thought we should receive a substantial amount. And instead of, I'm sorry, over $300 billion that we thought that we were going to get a substantial amount of that $300 million. We only got $30 million of that dollar amount. And the bordering states who migrants are passing through receive in some cases more than us, and they're using the money to ship, have buses to ship migrants to New York City. This just makes no sense. And so we need the assistance. We need an emergency action down at the border where we do a decompression strategy, so this does not fall on New York City.

Stelter: And what about the federal government? You've been clear from the start that they need to step up. Have you heard directly from President Biden on this?

Mayor Adams: On several different conversations I had with the president and meeting with his team, communicating with his team, sending out how urgent this is for the last few months. But we are not getting the support that we deserve here in New York City. People are coming through the bordering states, but they're ending up in New York and New York City, Chicago and other northern cities. It's clear that the blueprint has become, that send migrants to these big cities in the north, particularly to New York City. And it has overwhelmed our services. Every service in our city is going to be impacted by this action.

Stelter: So what about the regular New Yorker who's sitting at home this morning watching you talk about this, watching us report on it again and again. The ones that have big hearts, the ones that want to help. Is there anything that a regular New Yorker can do?

Mayor Adams: Yes, and they have. I cannot say enough about everyday New Yorkers. Even as they're living in the post-pandemic era, many New Yorkers have stepped up, volunteered. They have attended some of the HERRCs, humanitarian relief centers. They have gone to some of the shelters, the hotels, over 150 hotels we have opened and they have stepped up. We're asking them to continue to do so because we need help in this area. On Wednesday nights, I meet many of them helping the asylum seekers when we give out food and clothing on 34th Street and Seventh Avenue. Find a location. The clergy has also stepped up. And so that's what they can do. We have a hotline and a location where people can know where they can go to give assistance.

Stelter: Okay. I want to switch for a moment to the chokehold death of Jordan Neely and talk about safety in the city. The funeral is Friday. It's been almost two weeks since he was killed on the subway. There is so much tension. New Yorkers are struggling with this. Have you been losing sleep over this Mr. Mayor?

Mayor Adams: Anytime I lose a person in this city, it devastates me. I take it personally when this happened, my ultimate responsibility as the mayor is to ensure that this is a safe city. And we have been successful in driving down our major crimes, driving down homicides and shootings. The death of Jordan, who also has the same name as my son, devastated me. It hurt me in many ways. As a former transit police officer, I understand how important this subway system is and that's why we drove down crime. That's why we really put our Subway Safety Plan in place. My heart goes out to his family. It has impacted our city. And now the case is in the hands of the district attorney's office, justice will be served and he will have an opportunity to go to court and have this case heard in the court system.

Stelter: Well, and let's talk about that court case a little bit because the attorneys for Daniel Penny have raised more than $2 million for his legal defense. Clearly, there are people who believe that he was trying to do the right thing. How does that make you feel?

Mayor Adams: I think right now we should allow this case to move forward with our criminal justice system, and it's up to the district attorney to determine exactly how that is going to take place. Again, my heart is to the family and my heart is to the people of this city, this has impacted us all. And when I sat down and communicated with the Jordan in my life, my son, we talked about the devastation of something like this. And anytime I lose a New Yorker in this city, I take it personal, as I stated. That's my ultimate goal and my role as the mayor is to create a safe environment.

Stelter: Well, and in keeping with that safe environment goal of yours, when New Yorkers see someone who might be mentally disturbed on the subway, what is it that you would like them to do?

Mayor Adams: Well, think about it for a moment. You remember when I rolled out our mental health plan and I clearly pointed out the need of giving individuals services when they are in danger to themselves or they can't take care of their basic needs. There were many people who were advocates around this issue, did not understand the plan and pushed back on what we were trying to do. We must give services to the small number of people who cannot take care of their basic needs and they are in danger to themselves. This is crucial and we're hoping Albany would join us on that.

But those everyday New Yorkers, they should call the 311 or 911 system if a person is doing something extremely dangerous. So proper personnel could respond and that includes mental health professionals. And in those cases where it's needed, a law enforcement professional. It's the combination of the two that's going to ensure a person can get the care that they need. And that's what we did in the subway system. 

Over 4,000 people we interacted with were able to get off the subway system. Some stayed in care, some decided to go to other locations. But we have been proactive on this issue because we know the challenge of dealing with those with severe mental illness that can't take care of their basic needs and are a danger to themselves.

Stelter: Well, we are with you in hoping that New York's top 50 list of homeless people at risk, that your administration can help protect those other 49. We know Jordan Neely was on that top 50 list. Mayor Adams, thank you for joining me this morning.

Mayor Adams: Thank you, take care.

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