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Balance Safety and Protest Rights. NYC Mayor Eric Adams Appears Live on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos”

Mayor Eric Adams discussed the authorization for the NYPD to clear encampments at NYC universities on ABC’s ‘This Week With George Stephanopoulos’ on May 5, 2024. He emphasized the importance of balancing protest rights with safety concerns and responded to criticism of police presence, acknowledging differing opinions but stressing the need to ensure the city’s safety. Adams also assured that upcoming graduations in the city would proceed peacefully, prioritizing the celebration of students’ achievements.

George Stephanopoulos: New York City Mayor Eric Adams joins us now. Mayor Adams, as I understand it now, two of the city’s universities have now asked, have authorized the NYPD to come in and help clear encampments on their campuses. We see NYU and the New School. What is the very latest in New York right now?

Mayor Eric Adams: Several of our colleges ask the same, and we want to ensure we protect democracy and a right to protest. 

We have an obligation that when those protests reach the point of violence, as the president stated, we have to ensure that we use a minimum amount of force to terminate what is perceived to be a threat, not only by our intelligence, but also the school and college officials.

Stephanopoulos: You had said that you had been saying for days, if not weeks, that there were outside agitators that were doing this stuff or provoking a lot of the stuff we’ve seen on the campuses. Particularly at Columbia, should the NYPD have gone in earlier in your view? Is that the suggestion?

Mayor Adams: That determination, we communicated with the college officials for several days leading up to the New York City Police Department action, and we knew we had to get permission unless there’s imminent threat to life or severe threat to property. 

Once the schools made the determination, we shared the information that we had. Our intelligence division looked at it, and it was concerning to me, but we were not going to overstep our legal authority and right to do so.

Stephanopoulos: I want to read you something that New York Congressman Jamaal Bowman wrote earlier this week about the NYPD’s presence on campuses Tuesday night. He wrote, “The militarization of college campuses, extensive police presence, and the arrest of hundreds of students are in direct opposition to the role of education as a cornerstone of our democracy.”

What do you say to that? Not just Congressman Bowman, but others who say this stuff’s gone too far. that the reaction has gone too far.

Mayor Adams: Again, that’s the beauty of America. One has the right to have his or her opinion, and I respect that. I protested as a young man for apartheid and other issues to dismantle apartheid, and so I respect that. He has his position, and I have an obligation and responsibility to ensure the city’s safe. I policed in the city during 9/11, and there was one of the flyers that was found inside the protest, and if you look closely, it says “Death to America.” 

This has left a point of advocating for a particular item, and as I say over and over again, there’s a real attempt to radicalize our young people, and when you look at some of the information and some of the people who are there, we need to be clear that we cannot take this lightly. 

When I use the term of outside agitators, anyone can protest in the city, but when you’re on college grounds, and you do not attend that college, you are an outsider, and then when you train people to do destructive things, you are an agitator. I’m not trying to be politically correct. I’m trying to be correct for the City of New York as we make sure the city continues to be safe.

Stephanopoulos: All right, and bottom line, mayor, there’s several graduations scheduled in New York City over the rest of this month. Are they going to be able to happen in person and peacefully?

Mayor Eric Adams: I believe they should. It’s a wonderful experience to graduate from an institution, and I don’t think we should allow anything to get in our normal way of life. 

We will do our job, and if the institution decide to graduate their students and celebrate a beautiful experience with their families, we’ll make sure it’s done in a peaceful manner. 

Stephanopoulos: All right, Mayor Eric Adams of New York City, thank you very much for joining us on “This Week.”

May 5, 2024 New York City Hall

Sources: Midtown Tribune news – NYC.gov
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