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New York Mayor Eric Adams is embracing his inner Trump

Adams, a former police officer and Republican turned conservative Democrat, showcased his right-wing tendencies in May. New Yorkers ought to be concerned.


New York Mayor Eric Adams has gotten the side-eye from liberals ever since he won the city’s crowded Democratic mayoral primary last year. 

Adams’ behavior in May helped explain why.

First, to get a sense of progressives’ ire at the mayor, The New York Times’ Emma Fitzsimmons helped explain it recently. From the article

The mayor has spoken ruefully about the separation of church and state, supported charter school expansion and called for reducing the flow of migrants in rhetoric that critics have called xenophobic. He has also proposed budget cuts that could hurt key services such as libraries, arguing that all city agencies must be fiscally prudent at a time when the city’s cost of the spiraling migrant crisis is expected to be well over $1 billion — a factor that was not in play for previous mayors.

And there’s more: 

Mr. Adams has removed homeless encampments, pledged to remove mentally ill people from the streets involuntarily, defended the use of stop-and-frisk policing and resisted calls to close the Rikers Island jail complex by 2027. He was also endorsed by the city’s major police union, only a year after the group backed President Donald J. Trump’s re-election bid, and recently provided officers with generous raises as part of a new eight-year, $5.5 billion labor contract.

Simply put, many liberals are skeptical of the former police officer and Republican turned conservative Democrat, and they’re concerned about the direction he could take New York City. (Full transparency: I’m a card-holding member of that group.) 

Adams’ inflammatory rhetoric and law enforcement background have earned him the “Black Giuliani” label from critics who see similarities with former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. “Black Trump” is another one I’ve heard and also seen in graffiti in various parts of the city. 

The month of May helped show why the Trump comparison is so apt, as the mayor went on a Trumpian tear.

Adams kicked off the month with a controversial appearance on a right-wing radio show hosted by a Trump fanatic in which he didn’t push back when the host, Sid Rosenberg, suggested that people who criticize the New York Police Department don’t deserve to receive police assistance in times of need. 

“I agree 100%,” the mayor replied.

The timing was troubling, to say the least. 

The radio appearance came just one day after the choking death of Jordan Neely, as the NYPD was facing fierce criticism over its apparent lack of urgency in arresting the suspect in Neely’s subway killing. Daniel Penny, who has been portrayed as a hero by conservative media, was arrested several days later and charged with manslaughter; he was released after pleading not guilty. (Penny’s lawyers claim he was acting in self-defense and never intended harm.)

Adams faced criticism himself over his reaction to Neely’s killing. When he got around to speaking about the matter, he pushed a right-wing narrative

“We cannot just blanketly say what a passenger should or should not do in a situation like that,” Adams said on CNN two days after the killing.

I highly recommend checking out the clip below, in which Shams DaBaron, a New York-based advocate for the unhoused, responds to Adams’ comments. 

​​Adams doubled down on the horribleness in a May 10 speech, in which he used Neely’s killing to push his so-called forced hospitalizations policy, which would allow officials to force people without homes into mental health treatment involuntarily. 

Relatedly, Adams has been facing widespread criticism over his effort to curb New York’s decades-old right-to-shelter law, which guarantees temporary housing to people who request it. Adams has said an influx of migrants — some of whom have been sent by Republican governors engaged in anti-immigrant stunts — is reason to change the law. But New York’s housing crisis predates any such concern. 

And to cap it off, Adams rounded out May with an unhinged Memorial Day speech in which he bemoaned that children are no longer forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and denounced “socialism and communism and destruction that’s playing out across the globe.” 

This was pure Trumpian rhetoric — performative patriotism and a bizarre deflection from the fascism and white nationalism chipping away at liberal democracy in the U.S. and abroad. 

Whether Adams is behaving this way out of political convenience or sincere belief is beside the point to me. The reality is that financially and socially, New York City is in a very fragile condition. And I don’t believe it can bear the weight of its hubristic mayor and his right-wing agenda.