Eric Adams. Photo: Krystalb97 / Creative Commons / https://bit.ly/2LPghcG

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams assembled ethnic and community news outlets to tell city and state officials they were being excluded from the information loop.

Adams recounted the event at a virtual town hall on Thursday, saying people depended on hyperlocal media, often because of limited English proficiency, to get their news.

Adams, a candidate for mayor, vowed to give local media a seat at the table and direct access to information, alongside large outlets.

And he could be in a position to keep that promise, having vaulted into first place in his mayoral bid.

The term-limited borough presidnet announced his plan on Thursday to create the Mayor’s Office of Ethnic and Community Media, in collaboration with Councilmember Ydanis Rodríguez (Washington Heights, Inwood, Marble Hill).

“I truly appreciate the critical role these outlets play in empowering our communities, and I am committed to expanding the resources they need to continue bringing vital information to New Yorkers,” Adams stated.

Eric Adams speaking at the virtual town hall. Photo: screenshot

There are more than 300 ethnic and community-based media outlets across the city. They serve diverse neighborhoods, where the languages commonly heard range from Spanish and Mandarin to Bengali and Creole.

In some communities, there’s a mistrust of mainstream media that largely ignore them, so residents turn to news sources based in their community.

Adams’ proposal includes city agencies spending more advertising dollars with those outlets.

“We get a better return on our investment when we deal with local media, and it says to the city that we are not just communicating through the large guys. We are going on the ground where services are needed,” he said.

Adams rejects ‘moderate’ label, insists he’s progressive

In the town hall, Adams also made the case for why he should be elected mayor.

Politico reported on Wednesday that Adams had topped the polls in a field of more than 30 mayoral candidates. A previous poll indicated that he was narrowing the gap with Andrew Yang, the longtime frontrunner.

At the press conference, Adams said he’s not a moderate, rejecting a common media characterization of his platform.

“My mother used to say, don’t worry about what people call you. Worry about what you respond to,” he said, adding that “no one in this race has a more progressive outlook than I do.”

Some candidates who call themselves progressive focus on creating programs to pull people out of the river.

“I’m an upstream progressive who would make sure that they don’t fall in the river in the first place,” he said.

Adams told reporters at the town hall that he has a consistent record over decades on where he stands on issues and what he has done.

“You could look at my record because I have a record. There are far too many people running for mayor who, you have to ask, where have you been,” the former Brooklyn state senator said.

BROOKLYN, NY – JANUARY 20: Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams speaks at BAM’s 34th annual Brooklyn Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 20, 2020. Credit: Raymond Hagans/MediaPunch for BK Reader

Amid a crime surge and increased gun violence, Adams, a former NYPD captain, is making the case that he’s the public safety candidate. At the same time, the Brownsville native touts his record as a police reform advocate.

At 15, police officers beat Adams in the basement of a South Jamaica police precinct. Years later, as an NYPD captain, he co-founded 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care. The group focuses on fighting injustice in police interactions with the Black community.

Adams insists it’s possible to ramp up law enforcement while reducing bias policing and police brutality in communities of color.

Police accountability is a major concern in communities of color. City Councilmember Inez Barron, whose 42nd Council District included East New York and part of Brownsville, has spearheaded reforming the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), which investigates alleged NYPD abuse.

Residents there complain that the board is ineffective, lacks transparency, and has close ties with the NYPD.

BK Reader asked Adams how he would reform the CCRB, whose 15 members are appointed by the mayor, city council, NYPD commissioner and public advocate.

He said he would end the police commissioner’s authority to determine whether to follow the CCRB’s recommendation to fire officers.

“I believe it should be decided by the mayor,” he said, adding that he would also empower the board through better police misconduct investigations and ensure the timely release of police bodycam videos and other information to the board.

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Nigel Roberts

Nigel Roberts is a New York-based, award-winning freelance journalist. During his career, Nigel has written for several newspapers and magazines. He has extensive experience covering politics and was a...

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