Speaker Adams said no to Israel-Gaza signs because of damage to “historic” desks

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams on Thursday claimed her edict barring lawmakers from hanging political posters wasn’t sparked by tensions over the Israel-Hamas war, but is about aiming to protect “historic” desks — which the The Post has learned were built in the 1980s.

Adams — who is not related to Mayor Eric Adams — assured reporters that the memo that went out Wednesday, telling council members to no longer “affix on furniture or otherwise display signs or flags” was in line with rules for other legislative bodies.

“Truly this is a common type of regulation observed by many legislative bodies. It’s not uncommon at all. So we’re not unique in regulating this, and additionally council members desks are historic property,” Adams said Thursday.

The desks — now covered in dings and scratches — were originally used in the ’80s by the city Board of Estimates, but when the council expanded in the ’90s, the desks were repurposed, council sources said.

Many council members have consistently put up signs calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, or for the return of hostages being held by Hamas. Matthew McDermott
Council Speaker Adrienne Adams is defending her ban on signs affixed to desks. Matthew McDermott

“Now those desks might not seem too historic to some folks but … those are very, very old desks. They do carry tradition, and I can let you know that sometimes the materials that are used for the posters cause damage to that property. And not one of us owns the property in the chambers,” Adams said.

No members violated the directive during a council meeting Thursday — even though many of them had consistently for months been putting up signs calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip or for the release of Israelis taken hostage by Hamas.

Instead, various potentially damaging items could be seen on various lawmakers’ desks — including lattes, water bottles emitting condensation, a Canada Dry seltzer, a Celsius energy drink and a brown pear.

Some council members, including Bob Holden, Vickie Paladino and Kalman Yeger — who had been covering his desk with no less than four kidnapped signs for months since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack — opted to wear pins in support of the Israeli hostages on their clothing instead.

Adams said that the decision has nothing to do with freedom of speech. AFP via Getty Images

Holden, a Queens Democrat, told reporters he wore the pin because he didn’t want to mar his desk, while Queens Republican Paladino called the pieces of furniture “beautiful” after the meeting.

Some lawmakers griped to The Post Wednesday that being forced to remove the signs was infringing on their First Amendment rights to free speech.

But council leaders insisted the practice was always forbidden under the chamber’s guidelines and “Robert’s Rules of Order,” which is the widely accepted standard of parliamentary procedures.

“This really doesn’t have anything to do with freedom of expression. It’s got nothing to do with obstructing members’ abilities to exercise their first amendment rights in accordance with council rules,” Adams told reporters.

“We’ve given a lot of latitude for members to express themselves with the signs, and now it’s time to go back to the rules.”

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