He has a dream — of leading a New York City that is home to far fewer Midwesterners.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams — the leading fundraiser in the 2021 mayoral race — used Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday to deliver an inflammatory broadside against newcomers from the nation’s heartland.
“Go back to Iowa, you go back to Ohio,” he said during a speech in Harlem.
“New York City belongs to the people that was here and made New York City what it is.”
Speaking at the National Action Network’s “King Day Celebration,” hosted by founder the Rev. Al Sharpton, Adams implicitly played the race card as he denounced gentrification by singling out two states, Iowa and Ohio, that are 91 and 82 percent white, respectively.
Adams also rattled off a litany of social crises — including drug abuse and gun violence — that he said were ignored when they only affected the nation’s “black and brown community.”
He then declared himself “unapologetic” as he invoked the slain civil-rights icon, saying that “if you know the spirit and anything about Dr. King, he did not allow others to be comfortable while everyone else was living in horrific conditions.”
Adams — who raked in $437,099 in political contributions during the past six months, with major donations from the real-estate industry — railed against what he called the “displacement of the people who made this city.”
“You were here before Starbucks,” he told a crowd of about 300 who greeted his remarks with cheers and applause.
“You were here before others came and decided they wanted to be part of this city.”
Adams referred to the transplants as “folks who [are] not only hijacking your apartments and displacing your living arrangements, they displace your conversation and say the things that are important to you are no longer important. And they decide what’s important and what is not important.”
In Bushwick, caterer Jenna Hockman, 28, a lifelong Brooklynite, said Adams was “blaming individuals instead of the system that enables developers to build these high rises that are pricing people out.”
“I am concerned about placing responsibility on the individuals that are moving to these neighborhoods and not the people who are making money from these individuals moving there,” she said.
The Republican leader of Ohio’s Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, said Adams “took Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of unity and made it a divisive message.”
And Ohio’s GOP chairman Robert Frost welcomed any New Yorkers put off by Adams’ message to move to the Buckeye State.
“We got a lot of great things going on in Ohio. Ohio has an open door if people are frustrated in New York,” he said.
Adams’ speech came little more than a month after he used the dedication of an “LGBT-friendly,” elder-housing development in Brooklyn to criticize the project, which he claimed “is not going to be inclusive.”
“This is a continuation of what we see from Eric Adams dividing people and sort of polarizing New York City by pitting people against one another,” a political operative said.
“That’s what he did on the LGBT stuff, that’s what he’s doing now.”
A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio initially declined to comment, then issued a prepared statement Monday evening.
“The mayor doesn’t agree with how it was said, but the Borough President voiced a very real frustration,” spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein said.
“We need to improve affordability in this city to ensure New Yorkers can stay in the city they love, but New York City will always be a city for everyone.”
Additional reporting by Carl Campanile, Julia Marsh and David Meyer