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Billionaires Urged NYC Mayor to Use Police on Columbia Protesters, Chats Reveal
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By Anthony Haddad
Published 1 month ago on
May 17, 2024

A Washington Post investigation revealed that a group of billionaires secretly urged NYC Mayor Eric Adams to deploy police to disperse pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia University, with discussions involving political donations and the use of private investigators. (Shutterstock)

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In an investigative report, the Washington Post found that last month a group of billionaires and business leaders secretly urged New York City’s mayor to send police to disperse pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia University.

The Washington Post obtained communications showing that on April 26, business figures such as Daniel Lubetzky, Daniel Loeb, Len Blavatnik, and Joseph Sitt held a Zoom call with Mayor Eric Adams. This call occurred about a week after police were first sent to Columbia’s campus. Some participants discussed political donations to Adams and exerting pressure on Columbia’s leadership to allow police intervention.

One group member told The Post he donated the maximum legal limit of $2,100 to Adams that month. Some members also offered to fund private investigators to assist the police, an offer reportedly accepted by Adams. However, City Hall stated that the NYPD has not used private investigators for this purpose.

Who Was in the WhatsApp Group?

The WhatsApp chat group, which includes prominent figures like Howard Schultz, Michael Dell, Bill Ackman, and Joshua Kushner, was initially started by a staffer for Barry Sternlicht. Sternlicht himself communicated through this staffer. In an Oct. 12 message, Sternlicht’s staffer outlined the group’s goal to “change the narrative” in favor of Israel by highlighting Hamas’s actions.

Israel estimates 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack, while the Gaza Health Ministry reports over 35,000 deaths in Gaza since the war began.

The chat group formed after the Oct. 7 attack and has been involved in activities beyond New York, influencing high-level interactions with the Israeli government, U.S. business circles, and elite universities. Titled “Israel Current Events,” the group grew to about 100 members, including several billionaires listed by Forbes.

Chat Shows Influential Individuals Shape American Perceptions

Messages from the chat reveal how influential individuals have used their resources to shape American perceptions of the Gaza war and influence political and academic leaders, including Mayor Adams. Joseph Sitt mentioned after the Zoom call that Adams was receptive to their ideas and that the group’s support included hiring private investigators.

Despite Adams’s office claiming no private investigators were used, the chat logs provide a glimpse into how these business leaders coordinated their efforts. Sternlicht did not directly comment but confirmed the chat’s initiation. Other members, including Ackman and Schultz, verified their involvement.

The chat group also engaged in private briefings with Israeli officials and facilitated screenings of an IDF film depicting Hamas’s actions. The film was shown at universities like Harvard with help from group members.

On April 26, during the Zoom call with Adams, discussions included political donations and persuading Columbia’s president to allow police on campus. Although the mayor’s office did not directly address this meeting, they stated that police interventions at Columbia were in response to university requests, not external influences.

Columbia’s president had previously invited police to clear a protest encampment, leading to over 100 arrests. The involvement of police in subsequent protests continued to draw mixed reactions, with Adams defending the need for intervention to prevent radicalization.

Months later, the chat group ceased activities as its original objectives were deemed fulfilled by its initiator, Sternlicht, and other key members. The group thanked participants for their support and encouraged continued solidarity.

To read the full story click here.

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Anthony Haddad,
Multimedia Journalist
Anthony W. Haddad, who graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with his undergraduate degree and has an MBA at Fresno State, is the Swiss Army knife of GV Wire. He writes stories, manages social media, and represents the organization on the ground.

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