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NYC Mayor Eric Adams vows to address ‘racism built into’ city infrastructure

“Racism is built into our infrastructure,” tweeted Adams, New York City’s next mayor, “and we need to confront and combat it.”

Eric Adams, who was recently elected New York City’s next mayor, is echoing the sentiments of other Democrats who racism was “built into” America’s infrastructure. 

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who’s running as a Democratic mayoral candidate, appears in Flushing, Queens to open a new campaign office on June 8, 2021 in the Queens borough of New York City. In a new poll, crime has become a central issue for many New Yorkers leading to a rise in support for Adams, a retired police captain. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

In Wednesday, on Twitter, in a retweet of a claim of his from Sally Goldenberg, Politico‘s New York City Hall bureau chief, the Brooklyn borough president declared, “Yup. Racism is built into our infrastructure, and we need to confront and combat it. Capping the Cross Bronx Expressway is just the start!” 

With his tweet, Adams joined Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, as well as New York Rep. Ritchie Torres, who all noted that racism inspired a lot of the design of America’s highway system. 

For example, a freeway cap — also known as a freeway lid — is a type of deck bridge built on top of a controlled-access highway or roadways like the Cross Bronx Expressway. Adams, Schumer and Torres all support the idea of adding a cap to the Cross-Bronx, which would — according to an Adams interview on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, per The New York Post — “roll back the Robert Moses division of our city and reunite neighborhoods and communities,” the mayor-elect said, “and I love that idea.” 

Yup. Racism is built into our infrastructure, and we need to confront and combat it. Capping the Cross Bronx Expressway is just the start! https://t.co/qQ63z5MgGj

— Eric Adams (@ericadamsfornyc) November 10, 2021

“You cap it. You bring communities together. Greenspace. There’s some great things we can do with that,” Adams said.

Schumer, at a press conference Tuesday in New York, was joined by Torres and a host of local activists and advocates as they celebrated the passage and plans of the newly-passed infrastructure bill, which includes $7.5 billion for programs that can reduce the impact of highways on surrounding neighborhoods, including making a positive impact on environmental injustice. 

“We are here to hit the gas on a plan to mitigate the harmful effects of the Cross Bronx Expressway,” Schumer said. “This expressway built by Robert Moses is one of the greatest examples of environmental injustice. When it was planned, they didn’t give a hoot about the community.”

“Environmental injustice, where poor communities suffered the most,” he told those assembled, “is a legacy that we live with from one end of America to the other.” 

Schumer and Buttigieg noted that Moses, New York City planner and designer, purposely built low bridges on the Southern State Parkway to prevent Blacks and other minorities from accessing beaches in Long Island. 

Speaking with theGrio’s April D. Ryan during Monday’s White House press briefing, Secretary Buttigieg referenced that decision, saying, “if an underpass was constructed such that a bus carrying mostly Black and Puerto Rican kids to a beach […] in New York was designed too low for it to pass by, that that obviously reflects racism that went into those design choices.” 

“Well, if you’re in Washington, I’m told that the history of that highway is one that was built at the expense of communities of color in the D.C. area,” Buttigieg said. “There are stories and I think Philadelphia and Pittsburgh [and] in New York … Robert Moses famously saw through the construction of a lot of highways.”

He added that through their massive new infrastructure package, the federal government may be able to undo some of the harm the current infrastructure imposed on communities of color. 

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