Eric Adams Wears a Gun, Brandishes Dead Rats, and Maybe Lives in Jersey. He Could be NYC’s Next Mayor.
If the polls hold, we’ve got another character coming to the mayor’s office in former cop, Republican, and Louis Farrakhan admirer and current vegan Eric Adams.
There’s only been one, or maybe two, mayors of New York City in my lifetime who were not weirdos: the gentlemanly and restrained David Dinkins for sure; and arguably the Clash-loving, dad joke-making Massachusetts native Bill de Blasio, a veteran of the Dinkins administration who’s gone after this year thanks to term limits. Ed Koch, Rudy Giuliani, and even Mike Bloomberg were each, in their own inimitable ways, unhinged.
If the polls hold and former cop, Republican, and Louis Farrakhan admirer and current vegan Eric Adams wins the Democratic primary on Tuesday that will almost surely decide the city’s next mayor, we’ve got another character coming. Adams’ oft-recited political origin story involves getting beaten up by the police as a teen along with his older brother Conrad after they broke into the apartment of a prostitute he says owed them money for running errands, and then deciding to become a cop himself to reform the NYPD from within.
In a long career, he served as an “escort” to Mike Tyson when the heavyweight finished his rape sentence, despite the prohibition on cops associating with felons. He also fought from within the NYPD to end stop and frisk while steadily ascending to the rank of captain, before leaving to launch a political career where he’s continued to ascend. Here are a few recent examples of what New York would be in store for with Eric Adams—who frequently refers to himself as “Eric Adams,” a habit he says he developed in the course of journaling in the third person over decades—at the helm.
Rats and Guns
Let’s start with rats, the scourge of the city. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, launched a war against them in 2019, which culminated in his demonstration to reporters of a supposedly better rat trap, the “cutting-edge” Ekomille, intended to draw the city’s scourges in and then drown them. But he didn’t just show the $400 trap he called on the city of invest in but also buckets of dead rats so that, as Gothamist’s Jake Offenhartz memorably detailed:
For what seemed like a very long time, we gazed upon dozens of bloated rat corpses, bobbing around in this thick cocktail of death. Their clumps of fur were tinged green by the alcohol solution, into which they’d been lured and subsequently drowned at some point over the last month. We were told they would not smell, and while it was not overpowering, there was definitely a smell. Eventually, the sodden carcasses were fished out with a ladle and dropped into a trash bag. They made a sad, waterlogged noise: Plop.
Many questions jump to mind, chief among them: WHY? And also: WHAT THE FUCK???
When Adams came on my podcast in 2020, we asked him to explain how his Martin Luther King Jr. Day remarks about gentrifying newcomers “hijacking your apartments and displacing your living arrangements” who should “go back to Iowa, go back to Ohio” related to earlier comments where the borough president, whose political career has often been supported by developers, said the term gentrification was being used “to demonize the evolution of a community.”
His answer returned to rats:
“Once you get on the ground and do a real analysis of the impact of gentrification—people think just housing, it’s more than housing. It is about really moving your conversation. When I did that initiative of mothers coming into my office telling me about rats biting their babies, and showing me bite marks from the children by rats. And I went over the country and said, ‘Can we find a device to deal with the rat infestation?’ And we were able to put it in place as a pilot project and killed 107 rats, and then we want to put the pilot project into NYCHA developments. It was folks coming over and saying, ‘Why are you killing rats?’ You know, those things that are important to everyday residents. We have a welcome sign to New York, but how about being welcoming to the people who were there? And I think my comments of, you know, the evolution of the community is so important and I will continue to say that.”
A few minutes later, the conversation turned to his earlier comments encouraging off-duty cops and others licensed to carry firearms to bring them into houses of worship, and he declared that he would carry his own as mayor (which he hadn’t yet officially announced his run for).
Asked, “As mayor, would you carry a firearm on you even with a security detail?” he replied:
“Yes, I will, number one, and number two, I won’t have a security detail. If the city is safe, the mayor shouldn’t have a security detail with him, he should be walking the street by himself. Number three, the hypocrisy of those who are citywide officials who said that you shouldn’t have guns in church: Those guys that walk in with them? They got guns. So there’s a level of hypocrisy for a citywide official to say no one should have a gun in the church, but they don’t tell their people, ‘Hey, hang outside.’ If we could protect them in a church with a gun then we can protect Miss Mary with her Bible with a gun.”
When those comments recirculated over a year later, Adams suggested that he was joking in a supposedly light-hearted interview (though neither his campaign nor his political office said that at the time, in response to multiple news stories about the interview over the following days). Now he says he meant that he would carry one only if his security briefing contained some threat that would warrant it.
The Brooklyn borough president, who holds a largely ceremonial post, told reporters for months that he had been sleeping in his office while responding to the pandemic and campaigning for mayor, despite owning a rowhouse in Bedford-Stuyvesant (and also possibly a condo in Brooklyn he says belongs to his ex-girlfriend). Questions about that went from whispers to a campaign story after Politico New York reported earlier this month that “an examination of his government and political activity” based on its own reporting and that of rival campaigns “reveals blurred lines between the two, as well as a confusing account of his residential status for someone seeking one of the most visible jobs in the country.”
Adams—who also owns a condo in Fort Lee, New Jersey, along with his current girlfriend, in the same building where the ex he shares or shared the apartment in Brooklyn also lives—responded by holding a news conference at the Bed-Stuy house, which reporters had visited earlier to find mail piling up, along with his adult son Jordan Coleman, saying that the two of them shared the basement unit. Adams, who once gave parents advice on how to search their children’s room, gave reporters a tour of his, which had never before been seen by them or the public even as his New Jersey apartment had been the backdrop for several of the dozens of mayoral forums conducted over Zoom.
Amid more reporting that showed he’s continued to use what he says is his ex-girlfriend’s Brooklyn apartment on official paperwork, his campaign has promised to provide various amended tax filings and pieces of paperwork. But Adams has also suggested that questions about where he lives and his real estate holdings are insidious, and compared them to the racist “Birther” conspiracy theory:
"You’re old enough to remember Obama and Trump, running around saying Obama was not born in America,” he said. “This is the same thing. This is how people demonize.”
With Friends Like These
As David Freedlander detailed in an extensive profile in New York magazine, Adams had a long friendship with Hiram Monserrate, a fellow ex-cop who served with him in the state Senate. That friendship appeared to continue for more than a decade after Monserrate was expelled for slicing his girlfriend in the face with a piece of broken glass and then dragging her away.
Two lawmakers told Freedlander that Adams walked out of the state Senate meeting where they voted to expel Monserrate, saying “fuck all y’all,” which Adams strongly denied saying. In any event, Adams later attended Monserrate’s wedding and showed up at a campaign party as Monserrate, having completed a prison sentence for corruption, continued trying to revive his political career, an ongoing effort Adams condemned for the first time earlier this year.
Asked about the New York magazine story published Thursday, which detailed his close ties with Brooklyn power brokers also close to Mayor de Blasio, Adams at one point on Friday called it “a despicable racist portrayal of a New Yorker that has fought on the behalf of New Yorkers of all ethnicities and I am so dismissive of that. I’m not going to be distracted. I’m going to stay focused.”