Near the shelter for migrants, a recording is played around the clock with a call to leave and assurances that ‘Adams deceived them’
Migrants at a Staten Island shelter are being bombarded 24 hours a day with messages telling them to leave the shelter, claiming that the shelter is infested with rats and mold and that they are “being lied to by Mayor Eric Adams,” according to the New York Post.
The audio was heard from the property of homeowner Scott Herkert, who lives next to the controversial former St. John’s Villa Academy, which has become a migrant shelter. Residents of the area from September 10 to 11 heard a call in five languages - English, Spanish, Ukrainian, Chinese and Urdu, which sounded at a level of 117 decibels.
Residents said one of the migrants, who arrived at the shelter with luggage on Sunday when the warning sounded, took out her phone to record it, then called an Uber and fled. More than a dozen asylum seekers were seen leaving the site as a message was broadcast that could be seen as psychological pressure.
“In my view, using legal psychological warfare is fair game,” John Tabacco, the man behind the ploy, told The Post on Monday.
Psychological trick or compassion?
“Mayor Eric Adams is lying to you. This shelter has 300 beds in one room. You will not have personal space, you will not have a soul; in New York, you had a hotel room with private space and a bathroom,” the recording said, creating the false impression that the shelter was located outside of New York.
“Don’t get off the bus, say you want to go back to the hotel; there are rats and cockroaches in this shelter, there is mold in this building and it is not safe for you. You are being lied to, this building is not safe for people. The public wants you to come back to New York, it’s not safe for immigrants here,” the recording again falsely implies that Staten Island is not a borough.
On the subject: How to help immigrants in New York: what you can donate, where to volunteer
There have been recent sewer overflows on the school grounds, but there have been no reports of mold or infestations. The former school is equipped with outdoor showers for temporary residents.
According to Tabacco, the same message heard over the speaker is printed on flyers distributed at Manhattan’s migrant processing center at the former luxury Roosevelt Hotel by volunteers working for Tabacco.
The campaign was invented after talking with migrants at Roosevelt.
“They told me they were being lied to,” Tabacco said. “They are told: “Come!” We have air-conditioned buses for you. They’ll take you to New York, put you in a nice hotel room and give you a debit card,’ and they thought they had achieved their American dream.”
“Then they find out through friends, social media or just word of mouth that they are not very welcome and that they will be sitting in tents on cots in these small schools in large rooms with no privacy, 300 cots per room, with strangers. Go to the toilet outside, take a shower outside,” he said.
“And yesterday I thought: why not tell them the truth?” said the TV presenter. – They are being lied to. This building is unsafe for human habitation. It’s full of mold and cockroaches, and they’re much better off where they live, in the hotels in Midtown, than here.”
The message was delivered through a professional 430-watt JBL speaker installed by the neighbor of the former Catholic school next door, Herkert.
After two police inspectors were spotted checking the scene, community outreach officers asked Herkert to turn off the ongoing recording, which The Post reported sound levels approaching dangerous rock concert levels.
Reaction of local residents
Migrants took the message to heart, Herkert said. Three migrant women were seen leaving the shelter with backpacks at the same time the announcement was made.
“At least half a dozen left within 10 minutes of us playing that song,” he said. “Four or five left within two hours and we saw another four of them leave this morning.”
Neighbor Karla Mohan agreed the pestering campaign had been effective.
“Yesterday afternoon, when they turned on this recording, I saw three girls entering the house, they all stopped. The one with the luggage took out her phone and began recording the message that was being heard. Then she didn’t come in, turned around, got into an Uber and drove away,” Mohan said.
“Why shouldn’t they know the truth? They have absolutely no idea of the truth,” says the Staten Island resident. – I have friends in Venezuela who tell me: “Come, we have a job for you!”
“It’s unpleasant that these people are being used as pawns. And then they become the target of the bad guys, the migrants,” Mohan added. “Mayor Adams, our government tells us we need to be compassionate, and now they’re backtracking and saying it’s not appropriate.”
“They give up everything to come here and then find out that they are being lied to and that not only will they not be able to find a job, but they will be sleeping on cots next to 300 other people, 300 other strangers, or living in tents, moving from place to place.” into place,” she said.
An 86-year-old man living a few houses away from the shelter, who did not want to give his name, was ambivalent about the jamming tactics.
“Honestly, I don’t know if this is right or wrong. It’s good that now they’re doing it in their language, because before they were shouting almost the same thing, but in English,” the man said, referring to the steady stream of protesters at the construction site in recent weeks.
“Now at least the people inside can understand what they are being told,” he said.
“I sympathize with them, I really do. They found themselves in the middle of a nasty situation,” he said. “But the United States cannot become a home for every person in the world who is in trouble. We can’t do this.”
Read more NY daily news online on our portal.