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Transcript: Mayor Adams Appears Live On CBS’s “CBS Mornings”

May 1, 2024

Vladimir Duthiers: We are joined now by Mayor Eric Adams of New York City. Mr. Mayor, good morning. Good to see you. 

Mayor Eric Adams: Good morning. Thank you very much. 

Duthiers: This is the second time in two weeks that Columbia has called upon the NYPD to help clear out protesters on campus. Is sending the police in riot gear the best way to de-escalate what is already a tense situation?

Mayor Adams: There were two operations tonight. One was with CUNY and one was with Columbia University. Once I became aware of the outside agitators who were part of this operation, as Columbia mentioned in their letter and their request with the New York City Police Department, it was clear we had to take appropriate actions. 

When our intelligence division identified those who were professionals, well-trained, one of them was married to someone that was arrested for terrorism, we knew these children were being exploited and they were in danger and it would have been irresponsible not to reply to requests from Columbia University.

Duthiers: Mr. Mayor, when you say that the protests have been co-opted by professional outside agitators, how do you distinguish between those outside agitators and students who are just protesting peacefully? Who is this individual who is connected to a terrorist?

Mayor Adams: It's not singular, it's plural, several organizations and groups. I want to be clear on that. We did not take this action lightly. Once the Columbia University team and leadership in their letter acknowledging that outside agitators were on their campus grounds, we looked at our intel and information. 

I was briefed by the intelligence division and they were able to identify organizations and individuals who were not students but were professional agitators. We realized after the breaking into Hamilton Hall, some of the tactics, some of the methods, these are clearly being used across the globe and we understood how really dangerous this situation had become.

Duthiers: Okay, but Mr. Mayor, give us some information on who this individual or individuals who are connected to terrorism found themselves in police custody, which I'm guessing they are now in police custody?

Mayor Adams: If you look at, you can find this information, they're proudly acknowledging themselves on social media platforms. I'm going to let the intelligence division do their job on what information should be released and what information should not be released. When we do an analysis of all those who were arrested, a substantial number of them were not students of CUNY and were not students of Columbia University.

Nate Burleson: Mayor Adams, for those who are protesting peacefully, how do you respect and allow the right to free speech while protecting those involved in enforcing the law?

Mayor Adams: I think that's so important to point out because I was a protester as a child. I protested against the South African Apartheid movement. I protested when there were unfortunate interactions with young people who were shot by police officers. I know how to protest and I understand the power of protest. We must make sure that protest never turned into violence. 

When you saw the breaking into of Hamilton Hall, that was clearly not protesting, your right to protest, that was committing a crime. What we did as independent outside news journalists reported, we used a level of professionalism and we made sure that a minimum amount of force was used to eradicate the problem that was taking place in CUNY and on Columbia's ground.

Jericka Duncan: Mayor Adams, have you spoken to any of these students from both sides of this conversation? I'm wondering what they're telling you, but more importantly, how do you then have a larger conversation to make sure all students are safe?

Mayor Adams: Yes, I have communicated with many. It's unfortunate and I just believe we as a country are making a big mistake. There's a desire to radicalize our children coming out of Covid using social media and methods of really radicalizing our children. When you have only 18 percent of 18 to 30 year olds really loving this country, that should be a wake up signal for all of us. I have had a series of meetings with students. We have been meeting with various faith-based groups. 

This is nothing new for me. My Breaking Bread, Building Bonds, over a thousand dinners of people sitting down together to communicate. We have to start understanding this diverse city. We must come together and we can't use violence and calling for the destruction of a people like we are hearing with the antisemitism that we're seeing.

Duthiers: To that question, Mr. Mayor, the antisemitism, the rhetoric that we've seen, not just in New York, but across the country, what is the city doing to address that situation? Have you spoken to other mayors about that sharp rise in antisemitism?

Mayor Adams: Yes, and it's not only across the country, it has become a global movement. It's more than just the terms of hate, Islamophobia, attack on Sikh communities, going after LGBTQ+ communities. You're seeing a rise of hate in our country that we must push back on. I have communicated with all the mayors.

I was in Atlanta a few days ago for the African Americans Mayors Association. We talked about this. I sat down with the mayor of Denver as well. We understand that this is going to impact cities and we're coming together as mayors across the entire country and communicating with our mayors outside the country to talk about how do we safeguard our cities and don't allow this continuation of a global attempt to radicalize young people in these cities.

Duncan: Mayor Eric Adams of New York City, we truly appreciate your time. Thank you.

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

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