Eric Adams says he’s the next mayor of New York City whether the also newly-elected council members “like it or not.”
One the same day the mayor-elect scrapped his inauguration ceremony due to rising COVID-19 cases, Adams had a few choice words bout his colleagues to-be who signed a letter Tuesday criticizing his plans to put violent inmates on Rikers Island into solitary confinement.
Twenty-nine incoming New York City councilmembers said in the letter that solitary confinement is considered a form of torture by the United Nations, human rights organizations and medical experts, adding that evidence shows the method actually causes more violence.
"It causes intense suffering and has taken the lives of countless New Yorkers including Layleen Polanco, Kalief Browder, and Brandon Rodriguez," the letter read.
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In response to the letter, which was sent to both Adams and reporters, Adams said the councilmembers' desire is to be "disruptive."
He was upset to find out about the letter from the press and said the councilmembers should have picked up the phone and called him. He also said that the councilmembers' claim that he supports the inhuman solitary confinement is a lie.
However, Adams said last week he will reverse Mayor Bill de Blasio's plans to end solitary confinement and send prisoners into "segregation" from the main jail population from day one if they commit a violent act.
The 61-year-old says the new councilmembers have no right to question him on public safety matters because the former NYPD captain wore bulletproof vests for 22 years.
"What I'm going to do, I'm going to ignore them," the Democrat said. "If they like it or not, I'm the mayor."
"Those who are romanticizing this issue, I'm asking them, go do a week on Rikers Island. Spend time there. Then you come out and tell me that dangerous should walk up and down and not be held accountable," he said.
Councilmember-elect Tiffany Caban of Queens, whose name appears first in the letter, told News 4 that the city council's progressive majority will not be ignored, calling Adams' position extreme.
Adams is clearly staking out a tougher approach to crime fighting, which is what he said voters wanted when they elected him. But new council members were also elected and Adams' clash with the city council may be a sign of what's to come next year.
In 2020, the city settled a $5.9 million lawsuit with the family of Layleen Polanco, a transgender woman with epilepsy who died in an isolated cell on Rikers.
Another person named in the letter, Bronx resident Kalief Browder, was 16 when he was sent to Rikers after being accused of stealing a backpack. He spent three years there, nearly two in solitary confinement, before eventually being released without facing a trial. He later killed himself.
Brandon Rodriguez, 25, died after being found unresponsive in a cell at Rikers' Otis Bantum Correctional Center in August. Over a dozen people have died in 2021 on the island.