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Lower Manhattan rally to stop migrant shelter limits crashed by far-right activists

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Progressive lawmakers condemned the Adams administration’s efforts to limit shelter stays for migrants during a Lower Manhattan press conference Monday that wound up being crashed by far-right conspiratorial activists.

A chaotic scene unfolded during the Foley Square rally on Jan. 8 as a coalition led in part by City Comptroller Brad Lander called for an end to the mayor’s 60-day shelter limit for asylum seekers.

Supporters of the migrants demanded that Mayor Eric Adams reverse gears on a plan to limit shelter stays for migrant families. The first round of notices is expected to take place on Jan. 9, which Lander believes could see children thrown out into the cold.

“It is one of the most needlessly cruel things I have seen the government of the city of New York do in decades,” Lander said. “What the mayor, City Hall is proposing tomorrow, to evict families in the middle of winter, there is no need to do it.”

Protesters support migrants in Lower Manhattan
A sign read: “I stand with asylum seekers. No Evictions”Photo by Dean Moses
“It is one of the most needlessly cruel things I have seen the government of the city of New York do in decades,” New York City Comptroller Brad Lander said.Photo by Dean Moses

Lander helped organize the rally, which saw scores of fellow elected officials and homeless and immigration activists gather to call on Mayor Adams to consider the potential ramifications of evicting newly arrived families.

Over the weekend, single adult males languished for days outside of an East Village reticketing center, telling amNewYork Metro that they lost feeling in their limbs due to the extreme cold. This led Lander to worry for the safety of children.

“I was at St. Brigid’s a couple of weeks ago. It’s so grim what’s happening there. I really do feel like the cruelty is the point, like the city doesn’t want people to reapply for shelter,” Lander told amNewYork Metro.

Meanwhile, at City Hall, Mayor Adams defended his policy Monday and vowed that children would not end up sleeping on the street.

“Anyone who believes that this administration, we’re creating an environment in which children and families will sleep on the street, they’re not hearing our message over and over again,” Adams said. “This is not going to be a city where we’re going to place children and families on the street and have them sleep on the street. That is not going to happen.”

Far right crashes conference

While many New Yorkers endeavored to defend migrants facing evictions, a small band of protesters looked to disrupt the rally. Chanting “put America first,” the hecklers attempted to bring the call for action to a grinding halt by yelling wild, unsubstantiated accusations.

A chaotic scene unfolded during a Lower Manhattan rally on Monday after anti-migrant protesters crashed a coalition’s call to end the mayor’s 60-day shelter limit for asylum seekers.Photo by Dean Moses
Another advocate held a sign reading: “We are an immigrant city.”Photo by Dean Moses

“The illegals are here for one reason — to vote. They are here to vote with absentee ballots, with the mail-in ballots,” far-right protester Jonathan Rinaldi claimed, repeating a baseless conspiracy theory parroted by Donald Trump, among others. “These people are coming here to vote.”

The hateful rhetoric from the far-right interjectors sent supporters of the migrants into a frenzy, leading to nose-to-nose confrontations. The situation swiftly devolved into a pushing and shouting match between the two sides, but no punches were thrown. 

Still, speakers such as Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, used the protest as an example of the extreme hate migrants and Americans alike face today. 

“People need to see the ugliness that sometimes gets added to the misinformation that’s been put out there. They talk about illegal aliens, there are no illegal aliens. These are people who are seeking asylum,” Williams said. “The things we are pushing back on today feeds that ugliness, feeds the otherization that has always existed.”

Still, speakers such as Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who used the protest as an example of extreme hate.Photo by Dean Moses
Lander helped organize the rally which saw scores of fellow elected officials and homeless and immigration activists gather to call on Mayor Adams to consider the potential ramifications of evicting newly arrived families.Photo by Dean Moses

Lander helped organize the rally which saw scores of fellow elected officials and homeless and immigration activists gather to call on Mayor Adams to consider the potential ramifications of evicting newly arrived families.Photo by Dean Moses

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