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Business Leaders Caught Pressuring NYC Mayor to Deploy Police at Columbia Protests

In a startling revelation, prominent business executives have been exposed for allegedly pressuring New York City Mayor Eric Adams to deploy police to Columbia University to disperse anti-Israel protests.

The scheme, coordinated through a WhatsApp group chat, involved some of New York’s most influential figures.

According to a report by the Washington Post, this clandestine effort was spearheaded by billionaire real estate investor Barry Sternlicht. The group chat, which included heavyweights such as Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, Dell Technologies founder Michael Dell, hedge fund mogul Bill Ackman, and Thrive Capital founder Joshua Kushner, was formed in response to the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

The executives aimed to leverage Mayor Adams’ influence with Columbia University's leadership to gain permission for police intervention. They even considered hiring private investigators to support the NYPD in addressing the campus protests and discussed making donations to Adams' campaign.

On April 26, a week after police first intervened at Columbia, several business leaders, including Kind founder Daniel Lubetzky, hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb, billionaire Len Blavatnik, and investor Joseph Sitt, held a Zoom call with Adams. The group also explored ways to raise awareness about Hamas’ actions, proposing screenings of graphic films containing footage from Hamas militants.

Despite these efforts, city officials have maintained that the police deployments were solely in response to requests from Columbia University and not influenced by donor pressure. Deputy Mayor Fabien Levy condemned the allegations, stating, “The Washington Post should be ashamed to ask about, let alone normalize in print.”

Levy further clarified, “Both times the NYPD entered Columbia University’s campus — on April 18th and April 30th — were in response to specific written requests from Columbia University.” He vehemently denied any suggestion of external influence, calling it an antisemitic trope.

Spokespeople for Lubetzky and Sitt denied any record of donations to Adams, while Blavatnik’s representative confirmed his presence on the Zoom call was purely observational. Blavatnik, however, did donate $2,100 to Adams' re-election campaign in April 2024.

The WhatsApp group was disbanded in May 2024, as discussions deviated from its original purpose, and the founding members became inactive. This revelation raises serious questions about the influence of business leaders on public officials and the transparency of government actions.



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Image by Jessica Felicio