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NYC Mayor Adams Is Met With Boos At CUNY Law School Graduation

Mayor Adams was greeted with boos and turned backs during a CUNY Law School commencement address.

A day after City University students and professors protested against budget cuts laid out in the mayor’s most recent spending plan.

New York City, New York – Mayor Adams was greeted with boos and turned backs during a CUNY Law School commencement address Friday — a day after City University students and professors protested against budget cuts laid out in the mayor’s most recent spending plan.

Friday’s public demonstration, which was reminiscent of NYPD officers turning their backs on former Mayor Bill de Blasio, came as the current mayor was urging graduates to “get on the field and participate about improving the lives of the people of this city.”

As he spoke, boos could be heard echoing throughout the auditorium, with dozens of graduates turning their backs.

One person could be heard screaming the name Jordan, an apparent reference to Jordan Neely, a Black homeless man who was killed on the F train last week after a former Marine put him a chokehold. For days, Adams became a target of critics as he refrained from calling for the arrest of the Marine vet, Daniel Penny, who is white, even though it took more than a week for Penny to be charged with second-degree manslaughter.

“We know we can move this city forward as we deal with the issues around immigration and issues around public safety,” Adams said during the commencement, to more boos.

At least three dozens cap-and-gown clad students stood and turned their backs to Adams as he spoke at the ceremony, which took place late Friday morning inside the Colden Auditorium at Queens College.

A person who attended the commencement and spoke on the condition of anonymity described the scene as “wild.”

“He walked into graduation of the most radical law school in America thinking he would get a good reception?” the attendee said. “At least a third of the crowd shouted and booed while he was bragging about being a champion of public safety. And when he brought up asylum seekers someone yelled ‘those are our clients you are hurting, not helping’ and everyone cheered.”

The most drastic response came when Adams alluded to his time with the NYPD.

“For 22 years of my life, I wore a bullet proof vest and protected the children and families of this city as a police officer. So I know what it is. I know what it takes to hold this city together,” he said, as the din nearly drowned out his words. “We have a lot of challenges, a lot of things that it needs discipline. And just as you see these graduates here, I know what it is to protest.”

Fabien Levy, a spokesman for Adams, said the mayor “respects the rights of the graduates who peacefully protested today just like he peacefully protested countless times throughout his career.”

“As the mayor always says, this city may have 8.8 million people, but it also has 35 million opinions,” Levy added. “We thank these graduates for going into the field of law and their willingness to serve their communities — helping those who are disadvantaged, crafting public policy and legislation, or serving in public office themselves. The mayor looks forward to seeing how these graduates serve our city in the future.”

Hizzoner did manage to get some cheers, though. Those appeared to come from the back of the auditorium where the graduates families were seated.

“I’m the mayor because I know how to speak on behalf of the countless number of people in this city,” he said to applause.

A day earlier, CUNY students, professors and staff held a rally against city budget cuts that Comptroller Brad Lander estimated would total $155 million this year, resulting in the loss of 235 faculty and staff positions.

“That means a CUNY that cannot show up for its students,” Lander said on Thursday.

The reception Adams received from CUNY students Friday got a mixed reaction from observers, with most who commented on social media applauding the commencement speech protest and far fewer framing it as inappropriate.

“If you care about justice, if you care about CUNY, Adams has been a truly terrible mayor for you,” wrote @Gerry_Martini on Twitter. “No wonder CUNY Law grads aren’t having it.”

Adams has also been catching a lot of heat about how he’s reacting to the death of Neely. On Wednesday he said in a speech that Neely “did not deserve to die,” but has largely refrained from speaking about Penny. Until Thursday evening, when the Manhattan DA’s office confirmed it would be charging him, Adams had not mentioned his name once.

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