Tuesday, September 12, 2023

NYC shelter migrants bombarded with 24/7 blaring recording telling them to leave: ‘Legal psychological warfare’



Migrants at a Staten Island shelter are being bombarded by a blaring 24/7 recording urging them to leave, claiming the site is rat- and mold-infested and that they “are being lied to by Mayor Eric Adams.”

The audio recording was being blasted from a professional speaker in five languages — English, Spanish, Ukrainian, Chinese and Urdu — at an ear-splitting level of 117 decibels Monday afternoon from the property of homeowner Scott Herkert next to the controversial former St. John Villa Academy-turned-migrant shelter.

A migrant who arrived outside the shelter with her luggage Sunday, when the warning first started playing, pulled out her phone to record it and then called an Uber and fled, residents said.

More than a dozen asylum seekers were seen leaving the site — the scene of previous large protests attended by hundreds of residents — as the audio blared Sunday and Monday.

“In my view, the use of legal psychological warfare is fair game,” Newsmax personality and former independent city comptroller candidate John Tabacco , who conceived the ploy, told The Post outside the shelter Monday.

Homeowner Scott Herkert was asked to turn down the incessant recording.
Aristide Economopoulos
Three women are seen leaving the controversial shelter after a blared recording warned them that the Staten Island “community wants you to go back to New York City.”
Aristide Economopoulos

The recording shouts at the shelter, “You are being lied to by Mayor Eric Adams.

“This shelter has 300 cots in one room. You will have no privacy, you will have no showers; you had a hotel room with privacy and a bathroom in NYC,” it says — giving the false impression that the shelter is outside of New York City.

“Do not get off the bus, tell them you want to go back to the hotel; this shelter has rats and cockroaches, this building has mold and is unsafe for you,” the recording says.

“You are being lied to, this building is not safe for humans. The community wants you to go back to New York City; immigrants are not safe here,” the recording continues, again falsely insinuating that Staten Island is not a city borough.

The site had recently been plagued by sewage overflows , but concerns of mold and vermin have not been reported. The former school is equipped with outdoor showers for the temporary residents.

A flyer is being distributed at Manhattan’s Roosevelt Hotel migrant processing center in multiple languages warning asylum seekers they are “being lied to by Mayor Eric Adams.”
Aristide Economopoulos

The same message being blared from the speaker also is printed on flyers that are being distributed at Manhattan’s migrant processing center at the former swank Roosevelt Hotel by volunteers who work for Tabacco, he said.

Tabacco said he came up with the campaign after interviewing migrants at the Roosevelt.

“They were telling me that they were being lied to,” he said. “They’re being told, ‘Come! We’ve got air-conditioned coach buses for you. They’re going to take you to New York, put you in a nice hotel room and give you a debit card,’ and you know, they thought they made it, the American dream.

“Then they’re finding out through friends or social media or you know, just word of mouth, that they’re not really welcome and that they’re going to be sitting inside tents on cots inside these little schools in big rooms with no privacy, 300 cots to a room, with strangers. Going to the bathroom outside, taking showers outside,” he said.

Aristide Economopoulos

“So yesterday I thought to myself, why not just tell them the truth?” Tabacco said. “They’re being lied to. This building is not safe for human habitation. You know, it’s full of mold and cockroaches, and they’re better off where they are, in hotels in Midtown, way better off than they are here.”

The message was being blasted by a JBL professional 430-watt speaker from the former Catholic school’s next-door neighbor, Herkert.

After two police supervisors were spotted checking out the scene, community affairs officers asked Herkert to turn down the incessant recording, which had approached the dangerous audio levels of a rock concert, according to The Post’s measurement.

Herkert said migrants had been taking the message to heart at the 300-bed site, which at the beginning of the month housed about two dozen asylum seekers.

A lieutenant with NYPD Community Affairs talks to Herkert (left) and John Tabacco about the message being broadcast from Herkert’s home.
Aristide Economopoulos

Three migrant women were spotted leaving the shelter with backpacks while the message blared Monday.

“At least half a dozen left 10 minutes after we started playing it,” Herkert said. “Four or five left two hours later, and then we saw four of them leaving this morning.”

Neighbor Carla Mohan agreed that the obnoxious campaign had been effective.

“Yesterday afternoon when they started playing it, I watched three girls who are coming in, they all stopped. The one with the luggage, she pulled out her phone and started recording the message that was going out. Then she wouldn’t go in, she turned around and got into an Uber and left,” Mohan said.

“Why shouldn’t they know the truth? They absolutely don’t know the truth,” the lifelong Staten Islander said. “I have friends in Venezuela that tell me what they’re hearing is, ‘Come, we have jobs for you!’

The former Catholic school-turned-shelter has been inundated with protests since the city began sending a small number of the nearly 60,000 migrants in its care there.
Aristide Economopoulos

“It’s not nice the way they’re using these people as pawns. And then these people are being targeted as the bad guys, the migrants,” Mohan said. “Mayor Adams, our leaders, they’re telling us that we need to be compassionate, and now they’re backpedaling and telling us it’s not sustainable.

“These are human beings. They’re being lied to just like we are,” Mohan said.

“So they give up everything to come here, and then they find out they’re lied to and that not only can they not get a job, they’re going to be sleeping on cots next to 300 other people, 300 other strangers, or living in tents and moved around,” she said.

An 86-year-old man who lives a few doors away and did not want his name published had mixed emotions about the deafening tactic.

“Frankly, I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do or not. It is good that now they’re doing it in their language because they’ve been yelling pretty much the same stuff but it’s all been in English,” said the man, referencing the constant stream of protesters at the site in recent weeks.

“Now at least … the people inside can understand what they’re saying,” he said.

“I feel for them, I really do. They are caught in the middle of a bad situation here,” he said. “But the US can’t be the home for every person in the world who’s in trouble. We can’t do that.”

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