Bing bong New York City, your mayor is broccoli now. That’s according to your mayor, party boy Eric Adams, who compared himself to the vegetable while defending his decision to clear the city’s homeless encampments. This man simply loves the veg — he is vocally vegan, except when he quietly enjoys some fish, and he kick-starts each day with a nutritious swamp-water smoothie — so his more generous constituents may be prepared to wave aside this simile as a Freudian slip. But no: He said it twice.
“I’m like broccoli,” Adams informed reporters on Tuesday. “You’re going to hate me now, but you’re going love me later.” So he is the “broccoli mayor,” and the recent crackdown on the city’s unhoused residents is, as Adams put it, his “broccoli moment.” Per Gothamist, Adams plans to remove at least 150 homeless encampments just in its first sweep, which began on March 18. So far, the effort has seen Sanitation Department workers and police officers tear down tents and toss their contents into trash trucks. And last month, the mayor mobilized the NYPD to force unhoused people out of the subway system. As an alternative for the at least 1,100 New Yorkers now left with nowhere to go, Adams touts an additional 500 beds in homeless shelters and stabilization shelters. (The latter, Gothamist notes, typically offer a broader range of services, such as mental-health and substance-use support.)
“It shocks me that we believe it’s all right that someone should live on the street,” Adams said yesterday, according to Politico. “You should see the number of hypodermic needles on the ground, human waste. People are not allowed to take showers, they’re not allowed to take care of themselves. That is just so undignified.” And sure, fair point, only a recent survey of the city’s unhoused suggests that many people try to avoid sleeping in the shelters Adams is pushing because they feel acutely unsafe. So the whole “broccoli moment” metaphor fails to cohere, because while I can find a few rude things to say about broccoli — it smells bad, for example — I have a hard time believing broccoli would confiscate a person’s possessions, leaving them with no recourse but to enter a dangerous situation against their will. Why Adams would draw such a comparison baffles me, but in any case, it’s a fascinating insight into the landscape of our mayor’s mind, stuffed wall-to-wall with verdant, leafy veg. All broccoli all the time, baby.