Anti-LGBTQ+ protesters defaced New York City Councilman Erik Bottcher’s office walls and wrote defamatory messages on the sidewalk outside his house, the lawmaker revealed.
Bottcher’s district office and apartment building had been targeted by the protesters after he attended Drag Queen Story Hour at a Manhattan public library on Saturday. Over the weekend, Bottcher posted video he’d recorded of protesters demonstrating outside the building.
In an interview Tuesday, Bottcher said that he and his staff are doing well but that the incidents speak to an unhealthy political atmosphere.
“I wish I could say that I’m surprised that there are people in New York City that would travel around the city and harass families going to these events, but I’m not surprised by it,” he said. “Even though we’re in New York City, there are very deep reservoirs of hate in corners of our city and there are people who are, frankly, unwell and who succumb to these unhinged online conspiracy theories, and that’s what this is.”
According to Bottcher, a group of protesters arrived at his district office on Monday afternoon and tried to enter.
“They came up to the 12th floor, and they banged on the door and pushed on the door and proceeded to basically yell and rant and rave for about half an hour while our staff was inside, just saying really appalling things about me being a groomer,” he said. “Just really awful things. And my staff — we were all here. It was really upsetting.”
As the group left, its members vandalized the walls of the hallway. Bottcher shared photos on Twitter showing writing on the wall of his office featuring a vulgar variation of his last name.
Later that day, the councilman was attending a menorah lighting at a nearby synagogue when he noticed multiple missed calls from his neighbors.
“I immediately knew that meant that they had gone to my home,” Bottcher said.
His building superintendent called Bottcher and said he had contacted the police and that two people were arrested for trespassing. NBC News reported that two women were arrested by the NYPD on charges of criminal trespass.
“When I got back to my building, the police were there. They had cordoned off the front of the building. The sidewalk was filled with just vile epithets calling me a child molester, pedophile — just really awful, awful stuff,” Bottcher said.
The councilman shared images of the chalk writing on social media and a video of some of the protesters engaged in a physical altercation with one of his neighbors. Bottcher said the group’s harassment went even further, adding that he discovered threatening messages left on his personal cell phone over the weekend.
Bottcher, who is gay, has served on the City Council since January, representing Chelsea, Greenwich Village, and Hell’s Kitchen. State and local politicians quickly offered their support. Mayor Eric Adams condemned the incidents on Twitter, calling them “outrageous.”
“Erik, you stand up for our city every single day and these cowardly bigots have no place here. Thank you to the NYPD for your quick work and sending the message that this hate will not go unchallenged,” Adams wrote.
In a tweet, Governor Kathy Hochul said, “We are all standing with you. We will never tolerate this disgusting and hateful behavior in New York.”
Representative Jerry Nadler said in a statement that he stands with Bottcher and the LGBTQ+ community against this “disgusting display of hate.”
Bottcher said the outpouring of support has been “heartwarming” and that Adams even stopped by his apartment yesterday to see if he was okay. But when it comes to preventing incidents like this from happening again, the councilman said more needs to be done.
“People in positions of power have to start taking responsibility for their words that have very serious real-life consequences,” he said. “People on the political right, when they promote these conspiratorial attacks and throw around the term groomer, that manifests itself in real life in very dangerous ways.”