Eric Adams, the New York City Democratic mayoral nominee, won his primary on a law-and-order message. His Republican rival, Curtis Sliwa, isn’t impressed.
Adams, a New York City Police Department officer for 22 years who retired with the rank of captain, has become something of a Democratic darling since besting a competitive primary field a month ago. Adams met with President Joe Biden on July 12, touting his crime-fighting credentials four months before the general election, when he is highly favored against Sliwa in the heavily Democratic city.
But Sliwa, a New York fixture for more than four decades, as the founder of the Guardian Angels, a nonprofit organization of unarmed crime prevention, says Adams is a phony feeding off voters’ desperation for a safe city.
“He’s the classic flip-flopper who goes based on polling data,” Sliwa told the Washington Examiner. “For example, last summer, let’s look at what I was doing versus Eric Adams. The Democratic polls were saying people were interested in reforming the police. That was a battle cry. And I was saying, ‘Do not defund the police.’ Refund the police — we need to hire more police.”
New York City’s crime problem is the No. 1 campaign issue for this year’s mayoral race. And Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, managed to convince Democratic primary voters his opponents would be too lenient with violent criminals and not willing to change the status quo. That would be to continue the law enforcement policies of outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
De Blasio eliminated the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk tactic that had been a key anti-crime strategy and, among other things, decriminalized subway turnstile jumping. Additionally, the de Blasio administration often introduced new regulations and restrictions on the NYPD in an effort to “undo the legacy and harm of racialized policing.”
De Blasio’s relationship with NYPD rank and file has been in shambles during his nearly eight-year tenure. His job approval rating with New Yorkers is at 37%, according to the results of a May Spectrum News NY1/Ipsos poll.
Sliwa says despite Adams’s claims during the primary, he is no different than de Blasio.
“Eric Adams was out painting Black Lives Matter on every street in New York City with his mentor, his Medici, and his behind-the-scenes promoter, de Blasio, the mayor,” Sliwa said. “I was out there battling shooters and looters. I had my jaw broken and was standing side by side with the police, along with the Guardian Angels.”
Sliwa is best known for launching in 1979 the Guardian Angels, a global volunteer crime prevention nonprofit group whose members patrol New York City’s subways, streets, and neighborhoods and make citizen’s arrests for violent crimes.
Adams’s law enforcement background, have put crime front and center in the mayoral race. The meeting between Adams and Biden two weeks ago included a discussion about applying COVID-19 relief funds toward crime prevention. But the talks did not necessarily include hiring more police, Adams reportedly said, and that the president promised he would “redefine the ecosystem of safety.”
Sliwa slammed Adams over his remarks at that time, saying he “blew an opportunity” to pledge to use the $350 billion COVID funds to hire more NYPD officers.
“I took to the bully pulpit and said, ‘That’s crazy. We need to be hiring police now. We shouldn’t be waiting for a new mayor. Because it’s going to take a while to vet them out, train them, and get them into the streets. We’re badly depleted in terms of the cops,’” Sliwa told the Washington Examiner. “So, he is a classic flip-flopper on so many of these issues.”
An Adams spokesman smacked down Sliwa’s accusations, saying in a statement, “Sliwa will continue to lie throughout this election about Eric’s record — but facts are facts and voters know that, as a former police officer, Eric’s record on and commitment to public safety are unmatched.”