Read the op-ed in New York Daily News


A few weeks ago, Mayor Adams appeared at a bar mitzvah in Queens. (We all know the mayor loves a good party.) When he was given the opportunity to address the crowd, he didn’t use the bulk of time to congratulate the young man or his family. Instead, Adams launched into an attack on the How Many Stops Act, falsely claiming that it would make Jews less safe and calling on party-goers to tell their City Council members to oppose the legislation.

The night before the Council voted to override the mayor’s veto of the How Many Stops Act, Council Members Inna Vernikov and Susan Zhuang published an op-ed with the same divisive, fear-mongering message.

In the lead-up to the override vote, the mayor ramped up his disinformation campaign to mislead the public about the impact of the legislation. Adams claimed the bill would bury NYPD officers in paperwork and undermine public safety. He continues to claim that Council members simply don’t understand the legislation. He even challenged members to go on public relations “ride-alongs” with the NYPD.

Let’s set the record straight: The How Many Stops Act is a basic good-governance legislative package. It requires that police document the types of discriminatory and unreported stop-and-frisk interactions that disproportionately target people of color.

Adams and his allies haven’t just lied about the nature of the legislation; they have specifically raised the specter of antisemitic attacks to justify their opposition to this urgently-needed police reform measure. It’s a cynical ploy to use real concerns about antisemitism and hate violence to undermine important efforts for police accountability.

Lest we wonder how genuine the mayor’s concern for Jewish safety is, let’s not forget that Adams’ police department ushered members of white supremacist group the Proud Boys through the subway just last year.

Adams’ efforts to block the How Many Stops Act — aided by Vernikov and Zhuang — followed a playbook we’ve seen before. In 2020, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo used a rash of alarming antisemitic incidents to justify rolling back reforms to New York’s bail system.

Bail reform, which received support from a broad coalition of New Yorkers, including many Jews, was set to eliminate cash bail for nearly all misdemeanors and nonviolent felony offenses. It instructed judges to simply consider the least restrictive conditions to ensure a defendant’s return to court.

Opponents of bail reform exploited local Jewish communities’ safety concerns to undermine the legislation before the law even went into effect, giving judges additional discretion to detain defendants — a practice that we know is disproportionately used against low-income people of color. The playbook didn’t stop with Cuomo: Last November, Gov. Hochul floated further weakening bail reform, citing an uptick in antisemitic incidents as justification.

It’s not just that telling Jewish communities we should be in a state of perpetual terror hurts us. The policies themselves don’t work. Our bloated police budgets and high rates of incarceration do not make us safer.

New research based on California data produced from a law similar to the How Many Stops Act shows that police departments don’t solve serious or violent crimes with any regularity; instead, police spend much of their time conducting racially-biased stops and searches of drivers of color, often without reasonable suspicion — the exact kind of discriminatory policing that the How Many Stops Act will shine a light on.

Rather than relying on the punitive legal system, we should invest in community-based initiatives like Jews For Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ) and the NYC Against Hate coalition, which organize bystander intervention trainings and offer educational resources to equip New Yorkers with the tools we need to look out for each other.

Pursuing and investing in non-police and non-carceral solutions that materially support marginalized communities — focusing on health care, housing, and employment — will make all New Yorkers safer.

Adams did not succeed in blocking the will of the people for much-needed police transparency and reforms. The City Council passed the How Many Stops Act with a veto-proof majority, including the support of 80% of the Council’s Jewish caucus. On Tuesday, the Council voted to override Adams’ veto with even more support than in the initial vote.

The mayor’s fear-mongering and disinformation campaign had the opposite intended effect. This time, our community didn’t fall for it. But that won’t stop cynical politicians from trying to use this tactic again in the future. Jewish New Yorkers must be vigilant against attempts to manipulate the real threat of antisemitism in order to advance anti-democratic policies that let police act with impunity and lock New Yorkers up pre-trial.

Read the op-ed in New York Daily News