NYC Mayor Adams Compelled by Prominent Business Leaders to use NYPD on Protesters at Columbia University


[Article updated Tuesday, May 20, 2024 at 12:45PM to include email statement from Nick Bader, Vice President of the strategic communications & reputation management firm Rubenstein]

A group of influential New York business executives and investors reportedly created a WhatsApp and discussed with New York City Mayor Eric Adams to deploy the New York Police Department (NYPD) to Columbia University’s campus to disperse anti-Israel protesters. This came in the wake of an attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7, 2023.

According to a report from the Washington Post, business leaders, including CEOs and billionaire investors such as Howard Schultz (Starbucks), Michael Dell (Dell), Bill Ackman, and Joshua Kushner (Thrive Capital), created a WhatsApp group chat to discuss ways to influence the mayor and the NYPD. The chat, initiated by real estate investor Barry Sternlicht, grew to nearly 100 members.

The group discussed various strategies, such as hiring private investigators to assist the NYPD, making donations to Mayor Adams’ campaign, and raising awareness about Hamas’ actions through the screening of films containing footage from the terror attack. Some members claimed to have received briefings from the Israeli government.

On April 26, 2024, a week after the first deployment of law enforcement to the Ivy League campus, some of the leaders, including Daniel Lubetzky (Kind), Daniel Loeb, Len Blavatnik, and Joseph Sitt, participated in a Zoom call with Mayor Adams.

In an email to Black Westchester regarding the article, Nick Bader, Vice President of Rubenstein on behalf of his client Pershing Square Capital Management clarified, “Mr. [Bill] Ackman was not on the April 26 Zoom call.” The Washington Post story only states that Mr. Ackman who is the CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, was on the chat and that he helped facilitate a screening of the October 7 footage. Additionally, Bader informed Black Westchester that Mr. “Ackman had not participated in the chat since January and never spoke to Adams about the Columbia protests.”

City officials denied plans to use private investigators and stated that the dispersal of protests was not influenced by donor requests but was a response to requests from campus leaders. Deputy Mayor Fabien Levy strongly criticized the Washington Post for suggesting that Jewish donors secretly plotted to influence government operations, calling it an “all too familiar antisemitic trope.”

According to the Washington Post,spokespeople for some of the business leaders confirmed their participation in the Zoom call but denied making donations to Mayor Adams’ reelection campaign, with the exception of Blavatnik, who donated $2,100 in April 2024.

The WhatsApp group was eventually shut down in May 2024, as conversations had strayed from the original intent and the founders had become inactive seven months after the group’s launch.

A multifaceted personality, Damon is an activist, author, and the force behind Black Westchester Magazine, a notable Black-owned newspaper based in Westchester County, New York. With a wide array of expertise, he wears many hats, including that of a Spiritual Life Coach, Couples and Family Therapy Coach, and Holistic Health Practitioner. He is well-versed in Mental Health First Aid, Dietary and Nutritional Counseling, and has significant insights as a Vegan and Vegetarian Nutrition Life Coach. Not just limited to the world of holistic health and activism, Damon brings with him a rich 32-year experience as a Law Enforcement Practitioner and stands as the New York Representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America.

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