Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who is viewed as a likely candidate for mayor of New York City in 2021, apparently is upset about gentrification and displacement. During a recent speech at a Martin Luther King Day celebration, Adams made some controversial remarks on the topic that made mention of Ohio.
According to a Washington Post report on his remarks, Adams complimented long-time residents, saying: “You were here before Starbucks. You were here before others came and decided they wanted to be part of this city. Folks are not only hijacking your apartments and displacing your living arrangements, they displace your conversations and say that things that are important to you are no longer important.” The Post article reports that Adams then turned to the topic of recent arrivals to New York, and said: “Go back to Iowa. You go back to Ohio! New York City belongs to the people that [were] here and made New York City what it is.” The article also states that Adams said: “You are not going to enjoy this city, and watch the displacement of the people who made this city.”
Gentrification and displacement are serious issues, and obviously Adams feels strongly about them. Still, telling recent arrivals to get out of town doesn’t exactly seem like a thoughtful and measured response to the issues — even by blunt New York political standards — and a Martin Luther King Day celebration seems like an especially ill-suited forum for delivering that kind of negative message.
Since Adams is urging people to go back to Ohio, I just want to note that Columbus, and other parts of Ohio, would be happy to welcome transplanted New Yorkers — and anyone else who wants to come to a place where they won’t be judged by how long their family has lived in town. We think that Columbus belongs to whoever lives here and wants to be part of our community.