Since the Hamas terrorist attacks of October 7, there have been 483 anti-Israel protests in New York City, involving 161,000 people. On the morning of December 27 pro-Hamas demonstrators blocked a major artery leading to JFK International Airport and assembled in front of the Israeli flag by Terminal 4 for flights to and from Israel.
Most of them are peaceful, NYC Mayor Eric Adams noted, “But you’re seeing a small pocket of people who are now becoming part of the protest who are really trying to rile up the crowd and we can’t tolerate and accept that.”
The mayor was speaking at a press briefing on the 26th in anticipation of the city’s popular annual New Year’s Eve celebration. Hundreds of thousands of revelers are expected to gather in Times Square to watch the illuminated crystal ball drop.
Adams referred to expected pro-Hamas demonstrations. “Everyone looks for events like this if they want to do bad things,” he said.
“There’s an added concern because of some of the protests you have been seeing, and there was an attempt to disrupt the tree lighting, and we’re sure that there’s going to be some type of attempt this year to use that stage for some other concerns that people are having. The Police Department did an amazing job during the tree lighting to mitigate any form of major disruptions, and they’re going to do it this year,” Adams said.
The mayor, himself a former police captain, added, “There’s something that’s known in policing, particularly when there’s some type of terrorist action, of secondary devices, things like that, they want to draw attention from one area to go to a specific target area, we’re really exercising our mental muscles to make sure that does not happen.”
“It’s a real herculean task to manage that number of people without being heavy handed but being protective.”
The mayor also expressed concern over a recent change in law enforcement protocols regarding protests that came about as part of a settlement with Black Lives Matter. The settlement mandated fewer officers to deploy to most public protests and created a tiered system of response that puts de-escalation at a priority. It also banned “kettling,” the tactic of trapping and arresting large groups of demonstrators at once.
Adams called the change “troubling,” adding, “And now you’re seeing it. You see 1,000 people go to Grand Central station, decided they want to just close down Grand Central station or they want to sit in the street in front of Times Square.”
On Christmas Day, the NYPD was forced to call a Level Three high-level mobilization when a protester started spray painting “hateful terminology” at a Starbucks in the city, “riling up the crowd,” the mayor said. “When police went in to take action, others started joining in. These are very volatile situations.
“You can’t embolden those people who are watching what’s playing out in New York City. People come from all over the country. A lot of our agitators are outside people who come from all over the country and embed themselves into peaceful protests to rile up the crowd.
“When people do things peacefully, it’s fine,” Adams said. “But all you need is a small pocket of people … that can disrupt a peaceful protest. And they’re there for one reason — to disrupt.” Hamas has pledged to repeat the October 7th attacks—which included torture and rape, and the murder of over 1,200 people, and the abduction of 250 more—“again and again and again” until its aim of wiping the State of Israel and its Jewish populace off the map is achieved.