Black Lives Matter activists in New York City warned Mayor-elect Eric Adams that the city will see “riots” and “bloodshed” if he reinstates one of New York City’s most controversial anti-crime units.
“If he thinks that they’re going to go back to the old ways of policing, then we are going to take to the streets again. There will be riots, there will be fire and there will be bloodshed because we believe in defending our people,” said Hawk Newsome, co-founder of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York last Wednesday.
The exchange took place after a heated meeting with Adams in Brooklyn Borough Hall.
“So there is no way that he is going to let some Gestapo come in here and harm our people,” Newsome told the Daily News. “We pray for peace but…prepare for the worst.”
Adams had already drawn ire from progressives after vowing on the campaign trail to reinstate the anti-crime units, which were disbanded at the height of 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests amid allegations that they used heavy-handed tactics in Black American and Hispanic communities.
“We will shut the city down. We will shut down City Hall, and we will give him hell and make it a nightmare,” Chivona Newsome, sister of Hawk Newsome and co-founder of the same BLM group, said after the sit-down with Adams.
The meeting, which took place behind closed doors, but was livestreamed on Instagram by an attendee, showed how Mayor-elect Adams and the BLM activists engaged in a shouting match as they argued over police policies.
According to the New York Post, a police supervisor has called for every politician to denounce Newsome and for a federal investigation into the activist.
“The FBI should investigate him as a domestic terrorist and look into where he is getting his money,” the unnamed official said to the New York Post. “The people funding him should also be investigated.”
Adams outright dismissed Newsome’s threats and said he is going forward with his plan to restore the anti-crime units. He mentioned his track record of fighting racism and other abuses while serving as a police captain. “The supervisors are going to personally monitor them, and they’re going to review the video footage. Those officers who are abusing their authority, they’ll be held accountable,” Adams said.
“And if they continue, they’ll be removed from my department. So, you’re going to see a better style of a gun unit that’s going to zero in on gun violence.”
The anti-crime units were implemented during the City’s stop-and-frisk era, which disproportionately targeted Black and Brown residents. A New York Times report detailed how the units were involved in a disproportionate number of fatal police shootings. As the Times reported:
Though the anti-crime officers account for only about 2 percent of the department’s uniformed force, they have been involved in a disproportionate number of shootings by the police.
A 2018 review of fatal police shootings in New York City conducted by The Intercept, an online publication, found that plainclothes anti-crime officers had been involved in 31 percent of the incidents since 2000.
Mayor-elect Adams, however, is likely to point to the 22 percent increase in crime since the BLM protests of summer 2020.
However, research is mixed on whether an increase in police actually reduces crime.
While public safety was a focal issue in the mayoral race, Newsome fears Adams’ decision to restore the anti-crime units will be a green flag to empower the NYPD to resume previous abuses. Newsome said he would hold the mayor-elect accountable for any misconduct that resulted from his decision.
Adams shot back, saying the BLM leader should be proactive against violence in the Black community.
“You’re on the ground: Stop the violence in my community. I’m holding you accountable,” Adams said. He also urged the 13 activists sitting at the table to unite in the fight against crime with him.
“No, it’s us. We need to do this together,” Adams said.
Other approaches to crime reduction like job creation and education were offered by the BLM activists, but Newsome shared that it didn’t sound like Adams had a solid police reform plan.