Editorial: The NY Post is lying to you about homelessness around NYU

The right-wing media wants you to hate unhoused people. Don’t let them egg you on.


Kiran Komanduri

Considered the center of NYU, Washington Square Park has been the scene of many crimes this year. False information peddled by right-wing media outlets has baselessly blamed homeless people for crimes they are not guilty of. (Photo by Kiran Komanduri)

WSN Editorial Board

Infamous right-wing media outlets baselessly demonized unhoused people following a March 28 egging incident on NYU’s campus. The culprit was never identified, but these rags refuse to let themselves be encumbered by mere evidence.

In the incident, which followed reports of past verbal and physical harassment toward campus tour guides, an unknown person tossed eggs at an NYU tour group, striking one prospective student. One group was indeed “pelted with eggs,” as the New York Post’s Melissa Klein wrote based on WSN’s reporting. But the article deceptively suggests that “begging vagrants” were to blame, conflating multiple incidents of harassment to build a case against the most vulnerable people in the city.

The Washington Examiner and Breitbart echoed the Post, re-reporting the egging incident in similar terms. This brand of so-called journalism directly contributes to negative perceptions of unhoused individuals, which can encourage violence against them and drive systemic anti-homeless policies. These perceptions depict the homeless as inveterate criminals, despite the fact that unhoused people are more likely to be victims of violence than housed people.

It’s true that crime has increased in New York City by some metrics, and there has been extensive coverage in recent months of high-profile attacks by unhoused individuals. One such incident was that of Stern alum Michelle Go, who was tragically killed in January after an unhoused man pushed her onto the subway tracks.

While this kind of violence is inexcusable, media depictions of unhoused people’s supposed propensity for crime are out of control. These narratives have now made their way into coverage of harassment toward NYU tour groups. The Post and its ilk are playing up the egging incident to fit a portrayal of homeless people as erratic and violent.

Media narratives like these have encouraged policies targeting the most vulnerable New Yorkers. Mayor Eric Adams has recently cracked down on unhoused individuals, raiding and destroying encampments across the city.

Around 47% of cities in the United States already have anti-homeless laws that make the unhoused vulnerable to arrest for sleeping or loitering — simply existing in a public place. In combination with rails and spikes that prevent sleeping in public spaces, these laws strive to push the houseless out of sight, out of mind and into danger.

The desperate conditions that homeless people experience are only compounded by programs that punish rather than help. Adams’ administration has been clearing homeless people out of the subways, off the streets, and into New York City’s notoriously unsafe and unclean shelters, often destroying or discarding their belongings.

Our unhoused neighbors deserve our kindness and support. Many of the crimes committed by the unhoused are a result of circumstances that could be addressed by social programs like those Adams slashed in his budget plan. If we truly want to help the unhoused, we must begin by refuting harmful narratives.

As for the right-wing coverage of our campus: Their fearmongering will fail. NYU students should stand in opposition to this careless journalism. It is our responsibility as humans to treat everyone with respect and dignity, especially marginalized individuals constantly subjected to harassment, neglect and stereotyping. We should not extrapolate these isolated incidents to all unhoused New Yorkers, least of all in times like these. In the war against the homeless, whether it is led by Adams or the tabloids, morality demands our resistance.

Opinions expressed in the house editorial reflect the views of the Editorial Board, which is composed of the Opinion Editors, the Deputy Opinion Editors and the Editor-in-Chief. The house editorial does not necessarily represent the opinions of WSN or its staff.

Contact the Editorial Board at [email protected].