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Business Leaders Pressured NYC Mayor To Disperse Protestors



Business executives formed a created a WhatsApp group chat to discuss ways to influence the mayor and the NYPD.


A number of New York’s prominent business owners and investors put pressure on New York City’s Mayor Eric Adams to send New York Police Department to Columbia University’s campus and disperse anti-Israel protesters. 

Business leaders wanted Adams to use his influence with Columbia’s president and board of trustees in order to receive permission to send police to the campus and disperse the protesters. According to a report from the Washington Post, executives — including Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz, Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell, hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman, and Thrive Capital founder Joshua Kushner — created a WhatsApp group chat after the initial Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7. 

Started by billionaire real estate investor Barry Sternlicht and with close to 100 chat members, discussions were held about potentially hiring private investigators to aid the NYPD while addressing campus protests as well as donations to Adam’s campaign. On Apr. 26, some of the leaders — Kind founder Daniel Lubetzky, hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb, billionaire Len Blavatnik, and investor Joseph Sitt — had a Zoom call with Adams, just one week after the first batch of law enforcement was sent to the Ivy League campus. 

The group of business leaders also discussed how to raise awareness of Hamas’ wicked acts with screenings of 40-minute films containing images from body cameras and cell phone recordings made by Hamas militants participating in the terror attack. Some members of the group alleged they received briefings from the Israeli government. 

Following the different attempts, city officials noted that there were no plans to use private investigators. They also claim the break up of protests had nothing to do with donor requests but simply was a response to a request from campus leaders. 

According to Independent, Deputy Mayor Fabien Levy responded to the claims and said the “Washington Post should be ashamed to ask about, let alone normalize in print.”

Levy added, “Let’s be very clear: 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 to do so.”

“Any suggestion that other considerations were involved in the decision-making process is completely false, and the insinuation that Jewish donors secretly plotted to influence government operations is an all too familiar antisemitic trope that the Washington Post should be ashamed to ask about, let alone normalize in print.”

Blavatnik’s spokesperson confirmed he was on the Zoom call but only to see  how the mayor “was thinking about the Columbia protests.” He donated $2,100 to the mayor’s reelection campaign in April 2024. Spokespeople for Lubetzky and Sitt said there is no record of donations to Adams. 

The group of business leaders also discussed how to raise awareness of Hamas’ wicked acts with screenings of 40-minute films containing images from body cameras and cell phone recordings made by Hamas militants participating in the terror attack. Some members of the group alleged they received briefings from the Israeli government. 

The group chat was shut down in May 2024 due to how conversations moved past the original intent of the group and the starters of the chat being inactive seven months after the group launched.

RELATED CONTENT: NYC Mayor Eric Adams Defends NYPD’s Arrests Of Pro-Palestinian Protestors At Columbia University




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