Eric Adams looks to quash spat with Black Lives Matter leaders

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NEW YORK — Mayor-elect Eric Adams downplayed the significance of a recent disagreement with Black Lives Matter activists and doubled down on his campaign pledge to create a new plainclothes police unit Thursday.

"I made it clear on the campaign trail. I'm going to put in place — not the anti-crime unit — I'm going to put in place a plainclothes gun unit," Adams said Thursday on CNN, referring to a much-criticized unit nixed by NYPD brass over a problematic history of shootings. "We must zero in on gun violence in our city."

Adams' successful mayoral campaign made public safety a top priority. The former NYPD captain argued he was the candidate best suited to both tamp down crime and protect Black and brown communities from aggressive and abusive policing. On Wednesday, Adams had sat down with leaders from Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, who criticized his plans to create the new unit and threatened riots and bloodshed if the Brooklyn borough president made good on his word.

“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," said Hawk Newsome, the group's co-founder, according to a report in the Daily News. "There will be riots, there will be fire and there will be bloodshed because we believe in defending our people."

In multiple appearances Thursday, Adams vowed to move forward with his plans, and said the activists were not speaking for a majority of New Yorkers and suggested group leaders were mischaracterizing the substance of the meeting.

"You had 13 people who did a march from Manhattan to Borough Hall. There are different levels of people who are involved in the Black Lives Matter movement," Adams said on CNN. "Let's not make believe those 13 people have really consumed all the oxygen in the room."

Later in the day, Adams appeared with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, after visiting the Veterans Affairs New York Harbor Healthcare System, and said the reinstatement of the plainclothes unit didn't come up in his meeting with the BLM leaders.

“If it would have come up in the meeting, I would have stayed in the same position I’ve always had, and they knew that," he told reporters, adding, "people tell different stories when they go outside.”

In a follow-up interview, Newsome disputed that account.

“We’ve been advocates for Black people. We have been a revolutionary voice for Black people," Newsome said Thursday. "It’s disgusting that a man is knowingly trying to discredit us because he’s embarrassed.”

Newsome said the unit that was disbanded was responsible for the deaths of Black New Yorkers, and re-creating it would lead to more violence.

"Am I crazy to believe that these individuals are going to kill someone and there will be riots? Is that not a logical assessment?” Newsome said, adding, “He’s a man with no plan. And that’s going to prove scary for New York.”

Still, Adams said he plans to continue to engage with BLM and a variety of protesters as mayor.

“Good ideas come out of these conversations, a great idea came out of that conversation about safe hubs, creating safe spaces," he said. "You don’t get these good ideas from people if you don’t talk to people.”

Adams formally announced a transition team this week ahead of his Jan. 1 inauguration. He has said he will select a woman for NYPD commissioner, and has been consulting with a number of experts on public safety in the interim, including former NYPD chief Philip Banks.

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