New York City mayoral hopeful Eric Adams is taking flak for a Monday speech about gentrification, in which he told transplants to "go back" to Iowa and Ohio. "New York City belongs to the people that was here and made New York City what it is," the borough president of Brooklyn said Monday at the National Action Network's "King Day Celebration" in Harlem. He noted people arriving from out of state are "not only hijacking your apartments and displacing your living arrangements, they displace your conversation and say the things that are important to you are no longer important. And they decide what's important," per the New York Post. Issues like drug abuse and gun violence are ignored when they only affect the "black and brown community," continued Adams, who was greeted "with cheers and applause by the primarily black audience," per NY1.
There was a different reaction on social media. "What next, 'go back to Mexico?'" wrote one user. A spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said, "New York City will always be a city for everyone." Adams later clarified that "anyone can be a New Yorker, but not everyone comes to our city with the spirit of being part of our city." "I'm unapologetic in asking more of our new arrivals," such as "patronizing local businesses," he said. Still, some argued a politician deciding who had the proper spirit to be a New Yorker was "Trumpian chauvinism/xenophobia, just applied on a local level," per the Washington Post. NY1 notes other possible contenders in the 2021 mayoral race echoed Adams at the event. "All of you in this room built this city … and now, people want to take the communities away from you," said City Comptroller Scott Stringer. (Read more New York City stories.)