BLM activist claims permit for Juneteenth event blocked by Mayor Adams, who says it flouted rules

NEW YORK — The leader of a Black Lives Matter group in the city accused Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday of blocking an annual Juneteenth celebration thrown by the organization in a South Bronx park.

But Hawk Newsome of Black Lives Matter of Great New York vowed Wednesday morning to go ahead with the event at Joyce Kilmer Park anyway despite the lack of a permit and the fact cops are already on scene.

“At 1 p.m. we’re unloading the trucks,” Newsome told the Daily News. “They (the police) sent six to eight cars out here this morning. We had put up fliers asking people to move their cars to make room for our trucks. The people moved their cars. The cops are telling people to ‘please park.’ They are saying we can’t unload our trucks, we’ll get arrested.”

Newsome said he had rented “five bouncy houses, a water slide, a dunk tank, a cotton candy tent, a U-Haul full of food.”

“I have 2,000 burgers and 2,000 hot dogs and drinks and they won’t let me feed the people,” he added.

But Adams countered that Newsome didn’t apply for the permit until Monday or Tuesday and that it was denied by the local NYPD precinct commander. The park is located in the 44th Precinct and the commander is listed as Deputy Inspector Anthony Mascia.

“He wanted me to overrule the commander, and I said, ‘No, we’re not going to do that, you have to follow the rules,'” the mayor said at an unrelated event in Brooklyn.

Adams said Newsome made a similar last-minute request in 2023. “Last year, he did the same thing, and we said, ‘Listen, you can’t do it again,'” Adams continued. “We have to get resources there, we have to make sure the streets are closed properly.”

Newsome disputed Adams’ timeline and shared a screengrab with The News showing his application was submitted Sunday. He also said he never heard from any precinct commander. “It came straight from the mayor’s office,” Newsome said.

Adams spokeswoman Amaris Cockfield wouldn’t comment on the discrepancy, but said the exact timing of Newsome’s application ultimately did not matter as event permits are supposed to submitted at least 60 days in advance.

“The permit was not granted because the NYPD was unable to request the required resources to properly facilitate the event in this short amount of time,” she said. “We have repeatedly tried to explain the permitting process and work with Mr. Newsome, but over and over again, he has refused to submit applications on time or follow the process that other New Yorkers go through.”

Around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, roughly eight cops posted at Joyce Kilmer Park turned away a truck containing the dunk tank mentioned by Newsome, a News photographer observed.

In his earlier interview with The News, Newsome claimed he was assured by two city officials he would receive the permit though his application came in late. But he said he received an 11th hour call about 6:40 p.m. Tuesday from Ingrid Lewis-Martin, Adams’ chief adviser, who told him the mayor ordered the permit for the event denied.

“I went out of my way to do everything I could in my power and it didn’t work,” Lewis-Martin told Newsome, based on an excerpt of a recording of the call reviewed by The News. “I am telling you that I have done everything that I can do. I am telling you that it comes from the mayor directly.”

Later in the conversation, Newsome said, “I did what you told me to do and now I’m being punished?”

“Ok I wasn’t there of course. I’m just telling you what was me by the mayor,” Lewis-Martin replied. “I had everything going and they said the reason why they denied it was because it came from the top. There’s nothing I can do. Literally. There is absolutely nothing I can do.”

Newsome, a longtime and often controversial activist, was arrested on May 16 at Supreme Court in the Bronx during a heated exchange with a court officer. Newsome allegedly called the court officer a “vagina” and threatened to physically assault him.

The incident took place during the trial of a police officer on manslaughter charges for throwing a cooler at an arrest suspect and killing him in August 2023.

Newsome was given a disorderly conduct summons, court records show. It was not immediately clear if the case is still pending.

The Joyce Kilmer Park event was in its fifth year before the dispute began. It usually attracts several hundred people. In 2021, mayoral candidates Maya Wiley and Raymond McGuire attended.

This year, “They told me to change categories in the city system, they told me to remove certain things. They told me to jump through a series of hoops,” Newsome said. “I was assured by two people that it was approved.”

Juneteenth is a federal and state holiday commemorating the date slaves in Texas were officially freed in 1865 two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, according to the National Museum of African American Heritage and Culture at the Smithsonian.