An 84-year-old Holocaust survivor clapped back at New York City Mayor Eric Adams after he called her a “plantation owner” at a city meeting this week.
Jeanie Dubnau and Adams got into a heated exchange over rent control at a Hamilton Heights townhall meeting on Wednesday.
Adams got testy with Dubnau, who is a housing rights advocate and an assistant professor of biology at Rutgers University, when she challenged him over a backing a decision to increase rent city-wide.
NYC’s Rent Guideline Board approved allowed rent raises of up to six percent on the city’s million rent-stabilized apartments apartments last week.
.@NYCMayor went off on a woman during his town hall tonight: "I'm the mayor of this city and treat me with the respect that would deserve to be treated. I'm speaking to you as an adult. Don't stand in front like you treated someone that's on the plantation that you own." pic.twitter.com/Qwn8TgYFD1
— Myles Miller (@MylesMill) June 29, 2023
During the meeting, Dubnau jabbed her finger in Adams direction as she accused him of supporting the rate hikes.
“First, if you’re going to ask a question, don’t point at me, and don’t be disrespectful to me,” he responded.
“I’m the mayor of this city and treat me with the respect that I would deserve to be treated,” Adams continued.
“I’m speaking to you as an adult, don’t stand inf front like you treated someone on the plantation that you own.”
Adams caught flack for likening Dubnau to a slave owner over her race, despite the fact that she emigrated to NYC at age 8, after she and her parents fled Nazi Germany after WWII.
He doubled down on his remarks during an interview with a local radio station on Friday morning.
“[H]er behavior was acting in a disrespectful way,” he commented. “I came from a family that my mom made it clear: Never allow someone to be disrespectful to you.”
Adams noted that he was triggered by her tone of voice and finger pointing during the exchange.
“She disrupted [the meeting], and then she was degrading on how she communicated with me,” he went on.
“I’m not going to allow civil service to be disrespected, and I’m not going to be disrespected as the mayor of this city.”
“I’m a representative of this city, and we need to start having a better dialogue on how we communicate with each other, both locally and nationally on how we communicate,” he concluded.
Dabnau told the New York Post that she’s not expecting an apology from the city official.
“Oh, he’s not going to apologize,” she stated. “I mean, you know the mayor. He thinks he’s the greatest and doesn’t want to be criticized.”
She said that Adams was just swerving when he had his outburst.
“He didn’t have an answer,” Dubnau remarked. “That was just a deflection, that’s all, because he doesn’t have any answers.”
“He’s a landlord himself. He said, ‘Oh, I don’t raise the rent on my own tenants.’ Who cares about his own personal tenants?”
“He’s raising the rents on thousands and thousands of people in New York City,” she added.
Dubnau said she went to the meeting because she thought attendees would be able to speak, but noted that the townhall was “completely controlled” by Adams’ cronies.
“We weren’t being called on. It was a person chosen by his people who were going to speak,” Dubnau recalled, which is why she stood up and spontaneously addressed the mayor.
“He is a little bit like Trump in that way, by lying and by bringing up totally irrelevant things instead of answering questions,” she accused.
Thought she noted that the NYC mayor is less slick about deflecting than the former president.
“Trump is maybe even a bit more clever in how he does that … Eric Adams certainly tries to deflect whenever he doesn’t want to answer something,” she stated.
Dubnau, who has been a volunteer tenant organizer since 1960, wasn’t dissuaded from speaking out due to Adams reaction, and plans to call him out as much as she can.
“The main point is that the mayor has shown he’s an enemy of all the rent-stabilized tenants in New York City,” she concluded.