October 10, 2023
Video available at: https://youtu.be/5CKkLoy3UxM
Deputy Mayor Fabien Levy, Communications: Good morning, everybody. My name is Fabien Levy, and I serve as deputy mayor for Communications for the City of New York. In August, I had the opportunity to visit Israel with Mayor Adams and witness once again the extraordinary bond between their country and ours. That bond has never been stronger, and the attacks we witnessed this weekend were unprovoked, atrocious and appalling. They were the sick actions of terrorists not militants, but terrorists. I ask for my friends in the media to please quote me accurately.
This administration stands with our brothers and sisters in Israel today and every day. We pray for all those innocent people who lost their lives. We pray for all those innocent people who have been kidnapped. We pray for all those innocent people on both sides who are caught in the middle of a war they did not welcome, and we pray for our Jewish community here in New York City hurting at this time.
So, before we start this morning's event I ask that everyone join me in a moment of silence for the innocent lives we have lost.
Thank you, and thank you for joining us this morning. Like I said last week, delivering clear, accurate and accessible information is not only a basic responsibility of city government but a top priority for our administration. That's why the mayor has once again convened leadership from across New York City to answer you questions and address important issues.
As I said last week, these new media availabilities do not replace our press conferences; they build on them, giving all of you a regular and reliable opportunity to ask off topic questions. By bringing so many voices together in one room, we are hopeful we provide deeper insights and clear information on the work we're doing. We are excited to continue exploring this new forum and be joined today by so many of those experts and leaders, including Mayor Eric Adams; First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright, Chief Adviser to the Mayor Ingrid Lewis-Martin; Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi; Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer; Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom; Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Phil Banks; Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives Ana Almanzar; Chief Counsel Lisa Zornberg; Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Manuel Castro; and, NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell.
So, without further delay, I am pleased to turn it over to Mayor Adams.
Mayor Eric Adams: Thanks so much, Fabien. I think this morning, and the team, we did our eight a.m. briefing, and probably the most impactful part was when Lisa, our chief counsel, spoke to us as a team. And she just simply stated that...to the people of the city who are Jewish, she said, we're not all right. And know this is a big city and we have so many issues we juggle at one time, and we tend to just move through the city and just, you know, on to the next one.
But our Jewish brothers and sisters are hurting, they're hurting deeply. And many of them are part of my cabinet. And you know, I say to them, we are sorry. We're sorry for your pain. When we look over the tapes and videos of what happened to innocent people, and those of us who have children, we do everything possible to protect our children. And I can only imagine having Jordan snatched and someone would drag him through the streets or someone would rape a niece or nephew; or, watching the stoic look on the face of the grandmother as she was been driven away.
And we feel for our Jewish brothers and sisters, and we know you're not all right. We know during the highest and one of the most significant holidays of the year, someone would premeditate and carry out such a barbaric act that we've witnessed. And these are not soldiers, they're terrorists. They're terrorists. And they wanted to not only inflict as much physical pain, they wanted to inflict emotional pain and trauma, and that was intentional.
And I just think that anyone who celebrates this, who aligns themselves with this, need to do some real soul searching, because no matter what our opinions are, there are lines that you just don't cross, you just don't cross. And you know, I think about my journey to Africa, at the door of no return, and sitting in the dungeons where Black mothers were there for months, raped and treated in an humane fashion. I think about those who have gone through terrible times across the globe.
You think that we are beyond that. You think that's behind us, and Hamas told us that as long as they are in existence it's not behind us. And that was...I...those who believe that the Jewish community can put this behind them, they need to look at those videos. They need to watch what happened to innocent people innocent people. They were not soldiers, they were just young people, adults, family members, innocent people were treated in this magnitude.
And New York City has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, and this is a city where tolerance and acceptance and coexistence is important. And I want to thank my Muslim brothers and sisters who reached out and added their voices, who called and talked about how horrific this is, our Sikh community, our Christian community, all of our interfaith communities.
And tomorrow we're having an event at Gracie Mansion, and this is going to be at the top of our list as we start the process of assisting those brothers and sisters who are of Jewish faith here and the healing process they have to go through. But we are deeply, deeply sorry as an administration not only to my staffers and my team. Fabien's sister was there; Kayla was with me in South America as she navigated to press there and worried about her loved ones and family members who were in Israel. So many of my friends are still holding their breaths because they don't know the final outcome of their loved ones. And I just want to be extremely clear that this administration is deeply sorry for what happened.
My Latin America trip was so significant, and I want to be as clear and as accurate as possible of what the trip was about. I was very clear, I said it was several times. There was a threefold goal: number one, I had to be on the ground. You can't just read about this stuff. And those of you who have followed me for a long time, you know that I like to be on the front line. If it's going to a crime scene, if it's going to a terrible fire, if it's going through a large demonstration.
You know, generals lead from the front. You don't send your troops into battle and ask how was the war. I lead from the front. And what I learned on this trip, taking those four days, going to Ecuador, Mexico and Colombia, was extremely valuable, and you cannot learn this from just reading about it.
And the goal was to do just that: it was to have a firsthand observation. I was able to go to the Darién Gap, number one, flying over; and number two, going on the ground. And unlike what was reported, the police did not have to scramble to protect us.
The national police there is a professional operation, and the general who's in charge, he stated that it was dangerous, Eric, we would rather you not go, but if you decide to go, we need you to adhere to our policies, and that's exactly what we did. And they were able to get our team in safely and get out. They had us in armored vehicles to make sure that we received the necessary protection.
And I was able to see firsthand what is happening at the Darién Gap: 375,000 people went through this year, over 100,000 more than 2021, over 2,000 more than 2022. The escalation is unbelievable. And when you speak to the asylum seekers and migrants who were there, they are leaving countries that they are so fearful of that they believe the only destination they can have, number one, is to get out of their country; and number two, to make their way to America and they identified as New York City.
We were able to see the propaganda down that's being used by the individuals, the smugglers. They are using real propaganda and social networks such as TikTok, Facebook and others to specifically advertise for New York City to tell people to come to New York City.
And so the second goal we had was to use the local press in those various countries to communicate with them and give them a real view of what life is like in New York City and not what the social media and the smugglers were doing. And we gave them an honest view, a real view. We spoke with the leaders about it, and we were able to get the necessary communication through the local on the ground media there to tell them, this is what life is like.
Now, are we going to be able to dissuade them? Some people are fleeing horrific conditions. They're willing to put their lives on the line to travel through the Darién Gap, which is extremely dangerous. Many people don't make it through, 21 percent of them are children. And even when you make it through, the PTSD, the trauma, what you have gone through is going to impact you the rest of your life, everything from sexual abuse, to rape, to violence — just the conditions are so horrific there it's beyond one's explanation. And we wanted to communicate, if you put yourself in that danger, here's what's at the end. We are out of room in New York City. We have been extremely clear on that.
And lastly, to develop relationships with the local government there. They were extremely receptive. They gave us some great ideas. I have a meeting with former President Clinton that I am planning, because he played a significant role in the Colombia plan years ago when we were dealing with narcotics. I'm going to ask his feedback on some of the ideas that were presented to me. I met who's now the general, he was the colonel during that time, and we're going to build on that.
So, it was fact finding; it was to give a real picture; and, it was make the appropriate connection with the leaderships there. And we were able to do just that. The trip, based our standards, was exactly what we wanted to accomplish. And we're going to continue to push through. And those who state that why am I dealing with international policies, I don't know if they know about the list of mayors across the country that's dealing with environmental issues.
New York City is an international city. The respect we receive is remarkable. People look towards New York City. And I'm going to do everything I can to address this issue that this city is facing locally in New York City, statewide, nationally and internationally. And I'm going to combine with mayors across the globe that are dealing with this international movement of human beings that has swept our entire globe.
And so I look forward to the follow up, our team is going to do just that. And we're going to handle this situation here, but we're going to also look on our partners across the globe. So, why don't we open to some questions?
Question: Mr. Mayor, I'd like to talk to you about the situation in Israel and its effect in New York City. I know that there was a lot of concern about the demonstration in Times Square with the Democratic Socialists, but there's been competing parades and rallies from both sides. My question to you is, do you think that you as a mayor should ask social media platforms to crack down on hate speech and other things that are now floating around in the social media world that are provoking a lot of strong feelings on both sides of this issue and adding to the tension that a lot of people in New York are feeling?
And as a corollary to that, I'm wondering if your intel is showing any concerns for potential attacks on synagogues and other Jewish houses of worship.
Mayor Adams: So, I'll answer that in both layers. Number one, Marcia, you know my feelings about social media. You know, they continue to give this posture of, we're just producing a product without any social responsibility. And I believe they should sit down, evaluate themselves. They can use the algorithms to determine when someone is doing something or motivating hate. These guys are experts at getting the algorithms and the responses that they are looking for.
And to really promote some of the hate that we're seeing is, I think, is only harmful because there's a lot of emotions here, and I believe it's extremely harmful. And if they don't want to do their job of policing themselves, I really believe it's time for the federal government to step in and come up with some real guidelines on how we can put some of this hate in the universe, because it only throws gasoline on the fire that's already burning. And they could do a better job and they're not. They're not. They're hidden, and I think it's a real problem.
Chief Chell can go over what we're doing here. In South America, we had Commissioner Weiner, who's in charge of intel, she was monitoring the situation and she was communicating with her team back here. And Chief Chell and his team I believe did a remarkable job when you think about the amount of protests that took place, and there's more to come. Chief, can you give an overview?
Chief John Chell, Patrol Police Department: Yes, thank you, mayor. So, we had many rallies since Saturday, Sunday Monday. You saw us out there, sometimes you didn't see us out there, you saw uniforms out there. We kept it as peaceful as we could. We'll continue that posture. We had minimal incidents to report, and we're tracking all social media. Our intel's tracking any threats. There are no threats. And we'll be out there today, tomorrow, and we'll keep this going, the same posture we're taking. And so far it's been working for us. So, the city and the Police Department is responding well to this.
Question: Do you think the stuff that's been going on on social media is making it more difficult for you to police the situation and more difficult and adding to the tensions in New York where there's so much concern about the Jewish community for the people that they know or and love in Israel who are under fire and some who are still missing.
Mayor Adams: Yes, I think it aggravates the problem. And don't underestimate our lone wolves, you know, people who are being radicalized online. And when you put out statements that I have, you know, I have read on some of these sites, of you can motivate terrible behaviors. But as the chief stated, we are really monitoring sites and we are using a very sophisticated intel team that we are extremely conscious of that there are those that could exploit this situation.
And so there are things that are seen like our various teams that are out there, but there's a lot of unseen activity that Commission Weiner is doing to make sure that we stay on top of this. And all the commanders that have...the locations where we have high Jewish population, particularly in our Hasidic community because they are a visible sign of the Jewish community.
And so we know we need special attention there: Williamsburg, Borough Park, Rockaway, Flatbush area. We are very conscious of this and the Police Department is excellent at doing this.
Question: Yes, and Mr. Mayor and for Chief Chell. So, how are you ramping up security? What should New Yorkers be looking for, and especially in light of a lone wolf attack or a terrorist cell or group?
Chief Chell: So, Julia, let me just walk you through. Saturday morning, the team was on the phone early morning coordinating our response, moving an incredible amount of resources to protect our Jewish community, all churches and religion institutions in the city. We had multiple community calls with faith leaders from the Jewish religion, the Muslim religion, very well received, getting them on the same page as to what we're doing. And then yesterday, the Mayor convened a call with all elected officials.
So, the city was all, what we were doing on the same page and everyone's got the information we're sharing. As I said, we're going to continue that posture with multiple layers of security for different types of religious institutions whether it be the cop standing in front of the church, whether it safe corridors, [terror] lights on, late shift perimeter searches of some of the key institutions. So, we're very good at this. We've done it a lot. We'll continue to do it, and we'll monitor social media intel and we'll adjust accordingly.
Mayor Adams: And then in our meetings with our synagogues we're going to clearly, number one, they should designate a security team or personnel within the synagogues to do perimeter search and views, observations. If someone is hanging around a synagogue or you know, you see someone within the community that is suspicious, see something, say something, do something.
This is an important time. If you have a law enforcement person who's assigned to your synagogue or attend your synagogue, they should be positioning enough to observe what's going on inside. This is really an opportunity, we have to be high alert. We cannot let our guards down. We cannot believe that it happened thousands of miles away in Israel, we're the largest Jewish population outside of Israel.
And we want our synagogues, our personnel to be extremely conscious, and that's what we're telling our commanders, where we have a large Jewish population or those large targets like 770 on Eastern Parkway. That's a significant area where the Lubavitch community is well known, and we want to educate not only what police are doing but we want to empower our synagogues to also be part of the eyes and ears.
Question: I just want to follow up...
Mayor Adams: Yes.
Question: ...you know, because you mentioned lone wolf. You know, there was that instance where there was that bomb laden car in Times Square. You know, this could be an opportunity for somebody unrelated to anything in Israel, just to act out.
Mayor Adams: Yes.
Question: So, what should New Yorkers be aware of, what should they be looking for? When do they call "see something, say something"?
Mayor Adams: Well, this is definitely a moment where you don't want to live your eyes living in your phones. You need to be conscious of your surroundings. This is a very heightened period right now, and you should be conscious of your surroundings. And really when we look at the New Year's Eve, I don't think people realize how well the police department responded to that threat. They terminated the threat and they went on to protect the thousands of people who were celebrating New Year's.
Because you have cases where people will let off a bomb or something and then have a secondary device. And what the Police Department did, they made sure that they did not just focus their attention on that threat — which was an horrific threat, because officers were injured — they immediately went back to protecting the entire city.
And that's the same case here. And so, you know, long wolves are real, and they can get radicalized online and they would carried out an action particularly when a call is put placed out there to do something harmful. And so we must remain vigilant, but we need New Yorkers to be vigilant with us. It's a partnership to ensure the safety.
Question: Mayor Adams, I wanted to ask you if you've had a chance to review the delay, it's about the Kawasaki Trawick case, have you got a chance to review the delay caused by the NYPD not turning over body worn camera footage for 20 months and that's the reason why CCRB surpassed the statute of limitation for filing charges. Take… Because it seems like it was NYPD delay.
And then secondly, do you plan to meet with the Trawick family? I know they've requested to meet with you. So just I guess first question about the delay that was caused by the NYPD not turning over footage which eliminated CCRB from filing anything; and then, will you meet with the Trawicks?
Mayor Adams: Yes. Commissioner Caban was… After last time you asked me, Commissioner Caban, who was out of town and I was out of town, he said he's going to look into it and find out was the delay on our part, exactly what happened in the delay, because we don't want to interfere with the wheels of justice. It can't happen on our end, so he's looking it into that.
And once this is completed, I don't have a problem meeting and sitting down with the family. But I would like for it to complete, because it's up to the commissioner to make the final determination. But meeting with families of violence of any level or any crisis is something that I do, because you know, that's the role I must have.
Question: Mr. Mayor, your trip to...
Mayor Adams: I didn't even know you were there.
Question: Mr. Mayor, your trip to Central and South America, you spoke a little bit about this in the talk, about how tough it is to discourage folks who've already been through so much from continuing to make their trip on to the north. My colleague, Craig, interviewed a bunch of those folks who were in Ecuador, who were looking for jobs, who weren't able to find jobs in Ecuador and obviously, America has jobs.
And they were thinking about still making the trip through the Gap. They weren't aware that you were in the city and that you are asking them not to come; and even if they had been, they wouldn't have been deterred. So, how reasonable is it to expect that this trip has any lasting impact on what's actually happening here in New York on the ground day in and day out?
Mayor Adams: And I think that's a legitimate question that you're asking. Number one, we cannot sit back and do nothing. You know, we can't sit back and just say, okay, you know, you tell us the reality of what's happening in New York we're going to look at what was happening in our own country, but anything is better than where we are. You know, what we did learn in Ecuador is that there were a number of people who left and they're trying to now come back to Ecuador. They reached out to their government and said that they want to come back, because the reality of what life is like living in a congregate shelter unable to work, and so there are those who are attempting to come back to their countries.
And so my goal was to make sure that I was transparent. It was never my desire to say, you know, if people wanted to pursue a way from their countries, I wanted to be transparent and clear of what you're coming through. And I wanted to use those local mediums to do so, and we did that.
But there with those we spoke with when we were there who were asylum and migrants who stated that we got it, we know it's dangerous. We know the Darién Gap was a dangerous trek, those who went through. But you know, the product of American dream is just so rich to those countries. And then when you're feeling, Ecuadorians fleeing real drug violence, Venezuelans fleeing, you know, real destabilization. And they believed based on what was being promoted that America was the only place that they can come, and New York City was the final destination.
So, my role was to be as transparent as possible, and that was my attempt. Was it successful one hundred percent? I don't know that. We're not going to know, you know, is someone going to hear the voice of the mayor of the city saying you're not coming to a 5 star hotel? I'm hoping they did. But I have to try everything to help this city deal with this crisis that we are facing, and I'm going to try everything to do so.
Deputy Mayor Levy: Mayor, if I may… Hold on one second. Mayor, it was… Part of the trip was fact finding as well. Maybe you or Commissioner Castro want to talk about that for a second.
Mayor Adams: Yes, and that's very important, because I think people lose on those parts of it, they lose the fact finding part of it. We learned a lot by being on the ground, and that was probably "the" most significant part of it. That's part of the conversation I'm going to have with former President Bill Clinton.
But the information we were able to receive on some of the social media platforms that are being used of learning what Colombia… Colombia, they have absorbed 2.5 million migrants and asylum seekers, and they're saying we can sort of stop the flow a lot if we had some assistance with the infrastructure.
They've been left alone to basically handle it on their. Panama's passing people through. They're unwilling to absorb any. Costa Rica is unwilling to absorb. If we can help Colombia, we could really slow this pace down. And that is some of the things that we learned and the partnership we want to have with Colombia, we want to present to our federal lawmakers. I have a call scheduled with Congressman Meeks as the ranking democrat on foreign affairs. So, stuff we learned on the ground in our fact finding was crucial that I didn't know, wasn't aware of, and we want to continue to grow on. Commissioner Castro, is there anything you want to ad?
Commissioner Manuel Castro, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs: Thank you, Mayor. It is clear from what we saw and what we learned that cities have a very critical role in this issue. We are experiencing a new era of mass migration, and so it makes sense for us as cities to be working together: Bogotá, Quito, México City, El Paso, Chicago, New York City. We have to be working together to address this, and this is all being led by seven million Venezuelans leaving the country all within a very short amount of time.
Technology, innovation, social media is driving this; and then, smugglers have become entrepreneurs. We're seeing a jungle that used to be seen as uncrossable now crossed by hundreds of thousands of people. So, New York City, Mayor Adams, we truly are leading the way. Ask any expert who has been looking at this issue for decades, they've been saying time and time again cities like New York City, global cities need to lead the way, and this is exactly what we're doing.
And again, you know, there's a lot of humanity here that we had a chance to see face to face. I was not allowed to speak to people, but I did. I did speak to a family, a mother with four children. I saw myself in them — I was a child migrant myself — and they are terrified at crossing the jungle, but they were, and in part because they didn't find these opportunities elsewhere in South America. We want to make sure we have those conversations so that these children and these families don't have to cross the jungle and possibly not make it.
Mayor Adams: Go ahead, Nolan.
Question: Mr. Mayor, can you just, some basic facts about the trip. Can you say how many folks went along with you from the city administration and how much was spent.
Mayor Adams: You know, what was interesting here, all of this could have been placed on taxpayers' dimes. Our entire team picked up their own costs except for Kayla, who was dealing with media. Kayla had to come down to deal with, you know, part of the role of the media. But Tim Pearson paid his own way, I paid my own way, Ed Mermelstein paid his own way. You know, the team picked up their own costs.
We know we're going through a financial crisis and we said, listen, we believe in what we were doing, so we picked up the cost of the trip. It would have been nice if you guys would have really highlighted the fact that, you know, this administration was so committed that we could have easily had the city pay for this, but taxpayers did not pay for this. We picked up the cost for it.
And the costs with our public protection, you can communicate with the New York City Police Department, they had an obligation. Ecuador would not let me move around without an armored vehicle, Colombia would not let me move around without an armored vehicle. Our offices were able to partner, Deputy Mayor… I mean, Chief of Staff and Tim and Deputy Mayor Banks were able to coordinate with the personnel on the ground to make sure that we had armed security that was there, and so it was appropriate to have the right security.
These are some dangerous environments, you know, let's not kid ourselves. We were not going to Disneyland. You know, we were not...this was not a trip where we were sightseeing. They were very clear with us, these are some extreme dangerous environments you guys are getting ready to go into. And I wanted to make sure my staff was protected, and I wanted to make sure that I got back here as well, because I got a lot of work to finish doing.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor Adams: How are you?
Question: Good. I wanted to ask is you have been in contact with either the White House or even the Israeli government on whether any of the 11 Americans killed might have been from New York, if any of the hostages might be from New York City. And my second question is about, with respect to the migrants and policy. I noticed that in your on Face the Nation you were followed by the Illinois governor, Governor Pritzker, who was also making, imploring the Biden administration to intervene. And he said, you know, it's going to get cold in New York City and Chicago very soon.
Mayor Adams: Yes.
Question: And I just wonder whether you and Governor Hochul have talked about perhaps having a dialogue and forming a coalition with Illinois, Chicago, Massachusetts and other...there are other, you know, Massachusetts municipalities that are receiving migrants and making this sort of a more full throated effort from more elected officials, especially since you just came back from your trip to Latin America and I'm sure you have things to share with them.
Mayor Adams: Yes. And First Deputy Mayor Wright is doing just that. I don't know if she's at the point now that she wants to go through it, but there is a coordination that is taking place both here in the country and based on the trip we're going to expand it across this hemisphere. But that is in place right now, and part of this trip is going to assist in that. But there is a coordination that is taking place right now.
But we should also be clear on something, that the Mayor of Chicago, I communicated with him the other day, he's going to the border. I don't know if you recall, we went to the border, and people said why were we going to the border. And now other mayors are saying, wait a minute, we need to see firsthand what's going on.
The mayor of Denver, he's making flyers to hand out to people to tell them that his city has no more room. Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom handed out flyers to say, let's communicate with people to push back on that. So, many things that people look at our leadership as saying why are we doing what we're doing, everyone is duplicate what we're doing. We led. New York led. And when you lead, those who are not up to your leadership are going to critique it and don't understand the fullness of it. This team here, we know the fullness of having 375,000 people go through the Darién Gap, 7.3 million people leaving Venezuela staying in this region.
We need to really wrap our heads around what is happening right now. You know, 7.3 million people leaving Venezuela staying in this hemisphere, and the overwhelming number of them believe destination America equals destination New York. If we don't get this under control, you know, and if we don't focus on this real, w cannot simply be playing, we got you, or the sentence you said incorrectly, hey, folks, we...this is a real crisis that we are facing beyond your imagination.
This is a crisis that...a humanitarian crisis that this city has never experienced before. This has normally been in Europe with Paris and other places in Europe has experienced, this has now shifted to south… North to South America. And we'd better get prepared for this.
Deputy Mayor Levy: Do you want to… The other part?
Question: The second question.
Mayor Adams: Yes, what was the second...?
Deputy Mayor Levy: It was about the coordination with the...
Mayor Adams: No, that's what I said, that's what...
Question: ...where there any New Yorkers who died.
Deputy Mayor Levy: So, I've been in touch with the Israeli consulate, right now there's over 100 kidnapped, probably be significantly more, they're still trying to assess that so they're going to get back to us and let us know specifically if there are any New Yorkers. But I've been in touch with the Israeli consulate all weekend.
Question: And what about among the dead, the Americans, the 11 Americans.
Deputy Mayor Levy: If any of them are New Yorkers?
Deputy Mayor Levy: They're still trying to identify… Sadly, a lot of the bodies are… A lot of the bodies are not in a place that they can identify yet.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. I want to go back to that response you had about the success. When you went to the Darién Gap on Saturday you mentioned that you were only able to observe, you weren't able to talk to any migrants. I wonder, if you weren't able to talk to any of them and get your message out, how's that successful? And then separately, is New York City in any way providing resources or any help coordinating with the federal government when it comes to Israel other than protections at synagogues and things like that.
Mayor Adams: Okay. Darién Gap was two forms of mission, and you know, let's be honest and let's be realistic. You're getting 375,000 went through this year. There was no way we will speak with 5,000 people and have an in depth conversation of what was happening. How do you do it? You do it by speaking through media, the newspapers, televisions, the radios, the social media sites. That's how you reach the mass number of people.
The goal was to see what does it look like. We spent that half day flying over the Darién Gap looking at how people are coming in, what are the boats they are using. And then we got on the ground and we were able to see a visual of the number of people sleeping on the beaches, taking the boats across.
And so you are not going to speak with 5,000 people and say, okay, here's the reality of New York, so you use the various mediums that are there to communicate with people. If anyone thought we were going to go down to the Darién Gap and communicate with 10,000 people and engage in indepth conversations on a three country, four day trip, that's just not being realistic.
You know, we had a real clear plan. We orchestrated, coordinated and executed exactly what we were looking for. Communicated with the media, meet with our electives, have fact finders. That was exactly what we did in the four days that we were there. We went to three countries in four day...meet days meeting with senior leaderships, nonprofits, NGO, UNs, public law enforcement officials, sun up to sun down.
You know, and there was very little rest in between. I feel sorry for my staff. They don't want to travel with me again, I'm sure. But we executed a plan, and it carried out the objectives that we were looking for.
Deputy Mayor Levy: Do you want to answer the other?
Mayor Adams: What was...
Question: About having any resources or support talking to the state or the feds about helping those impacted by the conflict outside of the protection at synagogues.
Mayor Adams: Um hmm. Fabien?
Deputy Mayor Levy: Sure. So, we've been in touch, like I said, the mayor and I went to Israel earlier this summer. We're actually in touch with folks on the ground in Israel, restaurant owners who are helping coordinate meals for soldiers and those that have been displaced. Altice is offering free long distance calls to Israel from folks here, so we're helping promote that.
And we're trying to get people to volunteer...excuse me, to donate to provide funds for food for those in Israel. So, we're talking to the consulate and seeing anything else that they need, we've been in touch with a number of people over the weekend. We've been very clear, the City of New York is behind them and we want to support them in any way possible.
Mayor Adams: And there's some conversations taking place now with some surplus supplies we have. Our team is speaking out, Commissioner Iscol is speaking with some of the volunteer organizations that are here to see how do we get some of those surplus supplies that we have here that we built up during Covid.
So, we are engaged on all the different levels to see how do we help but not get in the way. There needs to be, you know, sometimes during these issues, these incidents there's a level of enthusiasm to just help help help, but we need to coordinate with those who are on the ground in Israel to see how do we not get in the way and how do we make sure that we assist them during these times of need.
Deputy Mayor Levy: Mayor, do you want to maybe mention the calls you had yesterday?
Mayor Adams: Yes. Yesterday I communicated with the mayor of Jerusalem, the mayor of Tel Aviv and the president of Israel, and they were extremely appreciative of not only the relationship with this administration and the country but how we were, you know, proactive in saying, listen, we want to be here to help but not to get in the way. Things are extremely chaotic on the ground, and we want to make sure that we are coordinating well with them. And I look forward to reaching out and coordinating time to speak with the prime minister as well.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. So, I want to just pivot to school safety questions. On Friday, we had two firearms confiscated by [Independence Environmental collocated] thanks to afternoon scanning. And then in Staten Island we had the young man stabbed to death. In Brooklyn, we had the young lady shot. So, my question, and I'm happy Chief Chell and Deputy Mayor Banks are here. My question to you, Mr. Mayor, is with schools like Environmental that had afternoon scanning after a parent alerted the school about a possible firearm, do you plan on increasing scanning at high schools?
Second question, Mr. Mayor, the stabbing in Staten Island was clearly gang related — at least that's what we're hearing from witnesses — and you know, the youth Project Pivot is a great program but we need more programs like that use intervention in the schools because clearly it's also impacting middle school students.
And then my last question — which I'm hoping Deputy Mayor Banks and Chief Chell could answer — the school safety division used to have police officers assigned to it. The previous city council under de Blasio cut the NYPD budget and the school safety… The dedicated school safety officers with NYPD school safety division were transferred out.
With the need for safe corridors, would you consider reinstating; and for you, too, Mr. Mayor, reinstating those NYPD officers to provide safe corridors so that we can prevent situations like what happened on Saturday in Brooklyn and in Staten Island.
Mayor Adams: And great question, Mona. You know, listen, public safety is a prerequisite to prosperity. I cannot say that over and over again. And making sure our children are safe is of paramount importance for us. And I'm glad you raised that, because you know, I'm often criticized because I believe school safety plays a role. Remember when I campaigned, every one… I won't say everyone, but the fringe element of the city didn't want school safety in our schools at all, and they demonized me for saying I would never get rid of school safety in our schools.
And hats off to the Police Department. They got a report of a child had a gun. They went in, they did an excellent scanning. They were able to identify two guns. They were able to make apprehensions at the same time. And there are loud voices that don't even want to do any type of scanning in schools.
Idealism collides with realism often, and you cannot have an idealistic approach to public safety, you have to have a realistic approach to it. And I'm not going to allow the loudest to get in the way of protecting our schools. We have not had one mass shooting or shooting in our school buildings — not one — and that's because of the job that the Police Commissioner Caban and former Commissioner Keechant Sewell put in place. But Chief Chell can give you an overview of those incidents and the apprehensions we made in those cases.
Chief Chell: So, just to bring you back to last year, last spring, late winter we had a couple school shootings that were high profile. We put together a whole new strategy for this. So, what did that encompass? Better communication with DOE, our commanding officers speaking to our school principals once a week, now our borough commanders are speaking to superintendents once a month. Just the communication alone changed the game for us.
Let's talk about strategy and deployment. Each precinct was mandated to increase their YCOs — their Youth Coordinating Officers — to six to be at school dismissals, to cover the safe corridors like you mentioned. We had the principals identify corridor locations, hang out locations that are well known to each individual school, whether it be a Chipotle's, McDonalds, whatever you want to call it, and we focus on the corridor and that location. Transit on the ground mirrors what we're doing for transit hubs.
We put all this in place last year, and we ended out the very, very well. When you talk about the three incidents Friday, the incident one was the shooting of the six year old coming home from school. The 70 Precinct had their public safety team in that area from intelligence gleaned from our communication work. And we would love to prevent that shooting, but that person was quickly apprehended with a firearm and that was gang related.
In terms of the second incident at the school, you said it. The mayor often asks, we're often asked for people to get involved. A parent got involved, sounded the alarm — again, to communication was quick, it was accurate, it was fast. We were able to put the school in a shelter mode. We were able to do a search, and then we made a decision on the ground to do what's now we're deeming a reverse scanning.
And we came up with two firearms and an imitation pistol. Like the mayor said, nothing happened that day other than that. No mass shooting. What did we prevent? Who knows, but we prevented it. And then when you get to Staten Island, again, the unfortunate incident on a bus. Was it gang related? It still looks...it looks that way. We didn't prevent the young man from getting stabbed, but again, our officers and people getting involved from the community. We had a good Samaritan, we had a retired member of our service get involved from the get go and we were able to make that apprehension. So, strategy, communication, accuracy, deployment. And it's working for us. We'd love to prevent it, but the next best thing is to stop it immediately, and that's what we did.
Mayor Adams: And you did prevent, chief. We had two guns in the school. We don't know what those guns were going to be used for, but because of the reverse scanning we were able to identify those two guns, take those two guns off the streets. And he briefly stated it, but let's not underestimate the role of a parent. A parent stepped up and did the right thing, and we need to commend that parent, because in order for us to do this correctly we're going to need our parents. And a parent like that should be commended, and she probably saved lives of innocent students by we got those two guns.
Deputy Mayor Levy: And just to add to what Chief Chell said, I want to just to clarify and for everybody if they don't know. The bus incident, just to be clear, was not on a school bus, it was on an MTA bus. So, it was off school property, it was not involving anything at a school.
Question: Just one quick kind of follow up very quickly. Mr. Mayor, the last time I interviewed you I asked you about the bulletproof vest, and I understand now our school safety agents will be getting the bulletproof vests, everything is approved and ready to go. Will there be an announcement of it, because this would be the first time to my understanding that school safety agents like the ones that disarmed...that confiscated the two guns don't have bulletproof vests.
Mayor Adams: So, and thank you for that, and thank you for...because you raised the question of, you know, it is difficult to acknowledge all the great stuff we do for the first time, because we just trip over each other because we've done so many first time things, you know. So, we will roll it out and hope that we can get Chris Sommerfeldt to write a nice story about it.
Question: Okay, Mr. Mayor, one more question about the trip and the fact finding part. So, you'd already talked to dozens of migrants, you reached New York and heard their stories. You went to El Paso, you read and watched the news at the Darién Gap. Can you name two or three specific things that you learned on this trip that you didn't already know?
Mayor Adams: First of all, we're going to do a full briefing, but I would pinpoint, and the reason I am going to meet with Bill Clinton, former President Clinton, I did not know the role he played in dealing with the drug crisis that was coming out of Colombia. He made the decision that those drugs were finding their way on the streets of New York City and hurting our young people, so he went to the source and he put in place a real plan. It was called the Colombia Plan.
And I was fortunate that in my meeting with the general of the national police — he was the general, was a colonel at the time that assisted in executing the plan, that assisted… Let me just read what... Yes, that assisted in the execution of that plan. And you know who was the Foreign Affairs senator chairman? Joe Biden. And so that the whole layout is a blueprint for us to duplicate. You stabilize Colombia, you give Colombia the support that they need. They're absorbing a large number. They want to be partners. That was an eye opener for me.
Second, Mexico. Mexico, they have over a million jobs they're trying to fill. And the reason that, you know, they don't have the right infrastructure and assistance that should be coming from a partnership with our country, that instead of people coming all the way up to America and New York City, if we build and assist in infrastructure in Mexico and Colombia with real partnerships we can stop the flow coming all the way on to New York City.
And third, which I think is one of the most important measures is the depth of the social media campaign. Some of the websites and the partnerships between the smugglers, the smugglers are using innocent people to smuggle drugs up and threatening them with their lives. So, there's a law enforcement component to this initiative, and we're looking to assign an NYPD detective down to Colombia like we have them assigned across the globe for terrorism.
We're looking to partner with the national police who's willing to do this with us. They said that we're all in having a detective there that could give us real intel of the flow on the ground.
Those three things I didn't...I was not aware of prior to the trip, and then more that it was extremely revealing because I was on the ground. And that's why as I stated earlier, this was a successful trip and it was good to be on the ground and learn more.
Question: And you view your roles as more expansive now that you have to be a part of something like a Colombia Plan, that you have this sort of like diplomatic international role now.
Mayor Adams: Well, I just think… I think people really underestimate what countries feel about New York City and the role of the Mayor of New York City. And when UNGA comes here, my team must balance global leaders that want to sit down and have a conversation with New York City. Mayors from all over the globe, people debate of who's second and third, no one debates who's number one.
This is the greatest city on the globe. And we lead. People follow what we do. And so no, I'm not an international leader, I'm just in an international city, and because this is an international city, the things we do impact what happens across the globe.
And because I know that this is the greatest shift in human populations in modern times, we have to take it seriously; and if we don't, I know what could happen to the city that I love.
Question: Thank you. Mr. Mayor, two kind of two questions on two very different topics, but I wan to make sure I'm able to ask them both. Since the Hamas terror attack, Israel has cut off power, food, water, access to Gaza. I'm just wondering, you know, in your conversations with leaders in Israel and so on so forth, do you think that's a justified response from Israel or might that have an adverse impact on civilians in Gaza?
And then separately on a completely different topic. The 2025 Mayoral Election, Allen Roskoff who I believe you at least at one point just count as a friend has launched a coalition to recruit a challenger against you. Some local lawmakers including Jessica Ramos has, you know, not ruled out running against you. I guess I'm wondering, what do you make of members of your own party this early taking steps to challenge you, and is that a reason why you've needed to fundraise as much as you have for your reelection?
Mayor Adams: So, let me deal with number one. I am not going to go into the private conversations that I have with leaders of Israel. They have the right to protect themselves and their people, and how they go about carrying out that role is something that their government must determine, as the leaders of this country make that determination and as the leader of this city I'm going to make the determination on how to protect the city.
Allen, who I know is a good friend of yours, and he gives you a lot of good sources and reporting when you want to do your stories, I know you have a great relationship and whenever he wants to do a story you make sure he gets the billing that he deserves. So, I got that, you know.
Listen, Allen didn't endorse me when I ran for mayor. WFP didn't endorse me, and a lot of other people didn't endorse me. You know who endorsed me? Everyday New Yorkers, working class people. And so I fund raise because part of the role is to raise money...
You know, I fundraise because unfortunately this is part of, how do you raise $13 million to put on a campaign? I'm the only candidate that stated, let's no longer fund raising in campaign. Let's have a public finance campaign where you're given $2 million and that's all you can spend on the campaign. No more raising money, no more calling private donors, no more asking me...asking people for donations.
You think I like doing these large number of fundraisers asking people to raise money, doing all the filing, worrying about people going through and calling all my donors and saying, did you actually donate to Eric? Do you think I want to do this? Do you know how much time it takes away from governing when you have to raise $13 million? Where do I get $13 million from?
Question: So you're saying that these challengers are formidable, the potential challengers are formidable, the threat enough and that's why you need to fund raise?
Mayor Adams: No. No. Every challenger is formidable. You don't discount anyone when you're running a campaign. Anyone who does that is foolish to do so. I do the fullness of my job, the fullness of my job is to govern, the fullness of my job is to protect this city, to move the city forward and to raise the money to be able to campaign in the future. It's part of the job.
And so if people want to, you know, decide that we want to put committees together to run against Eric Adams, I don't have any… I don't have any decision on that. The people of this city will determine who's going to be the mayor of the city, like they did the last time. You know, these are the same people who didn't endorse me the last time. I don't know if you realize it, he didn't endorse me the last time, and I've known him for years.
So, what do you do, you stay up at night and worry about people who are meeting in a basement somewhere saying how do we stop Eric Adams from being mayor? Can't do that. I've got a city to govern, and I enjoy every second of fighting on behalf of New Yorkers. I enjoy every part of improving this city, making our city safer, getting people back on the subway system, getting jobs back in the city, getting tourists back in the city, navigating us through Covid, navigating us through the asylum seeker crisis.
When you think about it… I know you don't like to admit it, but I know you get on your knees and pray every night thank God Eric is the mayor of our city.
You know that? You are able to ride your little bike safely through our city, no one is coming at you.
Mayor Adams: You're able to hang out in a restaurant, you know.
Mayor Adams: You're able to enjoy your little restaurants, you're able to… You know, I made your career. You're getting so many first page stories from me, you are so excited about covering me.
Question: Bicycle fatalities are up, though.
Mayor Adams: You are so excited covering me you don't know what to do, you know. Okay.