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

May 2, 2024

Pat Kiernan: It's been a busy 48 hours for the NYPD. University officials at Columbia, City College, and Fordham all requested police assistance after making the decision to remove protesters from their campuses.  
In those events on Tuesday night, nearly 300 people were arrested at Columbia and at City College. More than a dozen more arrested at Fordham last night. One thing that is still unclear is how many of those arrested were students and how many were others from off campus. For more on the campus unrest and other topics, Mayor Adams is with us this morning. Mr. Mayor, thank you for joining us. 

Mayor Adams: Thanks so much, Pat. That's a question that you just raised that's asked often. How many of them were outside agitators? How many of them were students? Just use the analogy of a classroom. If you had one professor giving inappropriate information to 30 to 50 college students, that's an impact.  

We know for sure that there were individuals based on video observance, based on actions, based on the history that were instructing students and others on how to do inappropriate action and, in some cases, illegal actions on the college campus. That's a problem. 

Kiernan: When you were asked about this yesterday, you didn't have a number yet as to what percentage of the people who were arrested were from outside, what percentage were students. Have you been able to pin that down? 

Mayor Adams: We turned everything over to the school, and it is up to the school to determine if they're going to release the names of students and non-students. I don't want to and the city should never release the name of students that the professors or this college, the presidents of the college, they can make that determination.  

We did release some of the names, the Police Department did, and others have actually boasted about not being students at the colleges. It's not unclear. I had the suspicion in the beginning, Pat. I mentioned it when I first saw it. I said something is wrong, something is different. We're seeing a change of tactics here. The intelligence division solidified what I felt all the time. 

Kiernan: Is it half the protesters that were from outside? Is it a quarter? Is it just a small number who managed to have an outsized amount of influence? 

Mayor Adams: Pat, I don't think that matters. I gave you an analogy. One professor poisoning a classroom of students is just as dangerous if it's 50 bad professors talking to 50 students. We don't need outside agitators on our college campuses hijacking the democratic right or democracies that we have in this country to write to protest. Protest is one thing. Breaking the law is another. We're not going to accept that in this city. 

Kiernan: I wanted to ask you about that. There is a tradition of divergent viewpoints on campuses, a tradition of student protest. Did you consider that as the NYPD was rolling in with the ladder trucks and the riot gear? 

Mayor Adams: I know that tradition so well. I did it in John Jay. I did it in New York City College of Technology. I did it as a police officer, protest. I also protected protesters as a police officer. Yes, this is a rich history in our country.  
Really, it is our trademark. It is our secret weapon. It is who we are. You have the right to protest the right. You don't have a right to inflict violence on others. I think it's immoral to call for the destruction of another group in this city.  

I think it's immoral to identify yourself as a member of a terrorist organization. I think those things are immoral. They may not be illegal, but they're immoral. We're going to always protect the democratic or democracy, I should say, and the right to protest.  

Kiernan: Mr. Mayor, particularly at Columbia yesterday. It was two nights ago. It was a substantial police presence. There was military-style equipment rolling in. Some people said that the NYPD was excessive with that it was heavy-handed. What would your response to that be? 

Mayor Adams: I respect that belief, but anyone that understands clear police responses and tactics and maneuvers to prevent dangers to protesters and other individuals, it is about sending a clear message that we are not going to allow disruptive and disorderly behavior.  

Look across the country. Look at what's happened across the country. On the same day that the officers went into Columbia University, they had a respond to CUNY where individuals were throwing bottles, other objects, garbage containers at police officers, but they showed a high level of discipline, a high level of precision policing and maintaining control. That presence of police personnel there that is disciplined and maintaining control is how you prevent the total disorder that we're seeing across the country. 

Kiernan: Mr. Mayor, I'd like to switch to some other topics. We talked a couple weeks ago about this form that you have been asking council members to fill out called the Elected Officials Agency Engagement Form. The City Council held a hearing about that form yesterday. I'm going to play a clip from Councilman Lincoln Restler. 

[Video plays.] 

Councilmember Lincoln Restler: I asked the parks and health departments to address unsafe lead levels in a park. I was told to fill out a form and wait. My colleagues' requests for meetings about illegal dumping, a cannabis store near an elementary school, requests for agency representatives to attend community events, from job fairs to mental health forums were all met with the very same response. Fill out a form and wait. This is the opposite of efficiency. This is the opposite of Get Stuff Done. This is how nothing gets done. 

[Video ends.] 

Kiernan: Mayor Adams, is this too much red tape? Is there a compromise that could be made with the council here? 

Mayor Adams: Clearly you saw a council person that interacted with a manner of not professionalism, but a temper tantrum.  

There's a process in place. Every response is responded within 24 hours, and I review every one of those responses for the most part so we can make sure we can align our resources. My team in IGA, they're doing a great job.  
Let's allow the form and the process to take its place, and then we can make an evaluation. This is a great tool that we're using to make sure we're fair. Some elected officials had unfettered access to agencies.  

Newer ones and elected officials that represented other communities, Black and brown communities for the most part, they didn't have that same level of access. I want to make sure it's fair. I've always stated that when I was running for office, and I'm going to do that while in office. I always use a form of this nature for the last 12 years while I was in government. 

Kiernan: Mayor Adams, this came out a couple of days ago, but we haven't had a chance to talk about it yet. You made an announcement about the unemployment rate among Black New Yorkers at its lowest level in five years. Talk to me about your administration's efforts to bring that number down. 

Mayor Adams: I'm really excited about it, and I think we should all be pleased as a city on this accomplishment. We saw a 24 percent decrease in unemployment rates since being mayor. For the first time, we witnessed this under 8 percent, and we knew we could not sit back and have potential applicants come to us, so we put in place a process of going out among the city, partnering with the private industry and governmental jobs.  

We have been having job fairs. We're going to roll out a Run This Town campaign about employment. We were laser-focused on improving unemployment rates under the Black community, and we're seeing the results of our accomplishment. Hats off to Deputy Mayor Almanzar, who's running this for us, and we're going to continue to see the success.  

Kiernan: Good news there. Mayor Adams, thank you for spending some time with us this morning.  

Mayor Adams: Thank you. Take care. 



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