How Activist Olayemi Olurin Became Mayor Adams’ Biggest Critic on Criminal Justice

Activist Olayemi Olurin challenges Mayor Eric Adams on The Breakfast Club, igniting crucial dialogue about justice and accountability in NYC.

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How Activist Olayemi Olurin Became Mayor Adams' Biggest Critic on Criminal Justice
Photo by Rashidah De Vore.

Olayemi Olurin is a fierce activist who is not afraid to speak up against injustice. Last month, she got the chance to question New York City, Eric Adams directly on The Breakfast Club radio show about his policies that seem to unfairly target poor Black New Yorkers. 

For years, the 30-year-old Olurin has criticized how Adams handles issues like Rikers Island jail, migrants, homelessness, and bail reform. She has used her voice across media platforms to speak up for those affected by the mayor’s tough policies. 

How Activist Olayemi Olurin Became Eric Adams' Biggest Critic on Criminal Justice
Olayemi Olurin with Mayor Adams on The Breakfast Show (Photo: Instagram @msolurin)

But nothing prepared Adams for Olurin’s blistering onslaught when they came face-to-face on the popular morning radio program. Olurin aggressively questioned Adams, dismantling his claims about making the city safer while expanding harsh policing tactics that disproportionately target Black and brown communities

“Is it safe or is it not?” she asked point-blank, calling out the mayor’s contradictory statements about public safety in the city. Adams stumbled over his responses as Olurin cited facts and statistics contradicting his rhetoric repeatedly. “You would realize how I turned the city around if you follow everything I do,” the mayor sputtered. “I would say ‘no,’ but we can get to that,” she fired back.

The former public defender then spent nearly an hour grilling Adams, backing up her criticism with an arsenal of facts and statistics he could not refute. She demanded the mayor justify policies that disproportionately harm communities of color under his “tough on crime” stance.

Their heated exchange included Olurin pressing Adams on his rhetoric stoking fear about crime on the subways despite data showing they are largely safe.

Olurin: “I think you’re right that there is a difference between perception and fact and how people feel about safety…but you’ve continued to fear monger about crime in the subways. You’ve added 2,000 police officers despite acknowledging the subways are not that dangerous.”

Adams fumbled to provide quotes of himself spreading such rhetoric. Olurin countered that as an activist closely following his administration, she has witnessed him “repeatedly say the subways are dangerous” and “complain about crime relentlessly.”

When Adams claimed he was just responding to commuters who feel safer with more police presence, Olurin cited reports showing 50% of New Yorkers feel less safe due to the mayor’s over-policing rhetoric and actions like unconstitutional stop-and-frisks disproportionately targeting minorities.

Olurin has emerged as one of Adams’ loudest critics, pointing out heavy police presence and barricaded playgrounds, she added, “This is a Black neighborhood. And so we have an excessive amount of police.”

For her relentless grilling of the mayor on live radio, Olurin has attracted both enthusiastic praise and vindictive backlash. Supporters have hailed her as the bold voice of long-standing grievances finally getting attention. But NYPD leaders have issued threatening attacks on social media, prompting fears of real-life retaliation that already have her modifying behaviors like removing a Bahamian flag from outside her home.

Yet Olurin remains undaunted, maintaining her crusade for equity and police reform comes from an authentic desire to uplift the communities Adams has scapegoated, not personal hostility toward the mayor. “When I say I hate Eric Adams, it really means I hate what he stands for,” she explained to The CUT. “If Eric Adams resigned tomorrow, you would never hear me say his name again.”

Her Breakfast Club confrontation turned a local radio hit into a nationally-televised public reckoning for an increasingly embattled mayor. 

Born in the Bahamas to strict parents who dictated career paths for their children, Olurin was always the outspoken debater. She leveraged her persuasive skills to gain opportunities like attending a U.S. boarding school, where she first faced overt racism from peers.

After law school and working at the overloaded Legal Aid Society, Olurin realized she could have more impact as an advocate than continuing case-by-case work. She started a YouTube channel last year examining issues around racism, politics, and identity with her trademark candor.

In preparing for the Breakfast Club interview, Olurin spent hours meticulously researching data to back every criticism of Adams. “A cross-examination is calling out the discrepancies,” she says of applying her legal skills. While expecting Adams might cancel, once he committed, Olurin treated it as potentially a once-in-a-lifetime chance to confront him directly: “I went into it recognizing this is never happening again.”

For now, Olurin’s impact resonates most strongly among New Yorkers – especially Black residents – who have found their resentments toward the mayor’s policies finally represented through her impassioned, substantive confrontation.

As she tells it, “I want my own platform big enough to get enough attention” to hold authorities like Adams accountable to the public interests they’ve disregarded.

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