Jonathan David Rinaldi GOP candidate in front of light walls


GOP candidate held a protest at motel accused of housing migrants—the motel says none were there

The motel 'flatly told' protesters they weren't housing migrants.


Claire Goforth


Posted on May 24, 2023

A Republican running for city council in New York City held a protest at a motel on Tuesday because it was supposedly going to house migrants from the border. But no migrants were there, according to the motel’s lawyer.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has been calling for help with the influx of immigrants to the city in recent weeks. Last week, a local radio station reported that the owners of Kew Motor Inn had signed a contract to take in migrants arriving in the city.

On Monday, the New York Post reported that city council candidate Jonathan Rinaldi claimed the Kew Motor Inn was taking in scores of migrants. In a press release posted on Instagram, Rinaldi claimed that “15 busloads of illegal unvetted migrants” were going to the motel and warned that property values and children’s safety “are on the line.”

Armed with this information, Rinaldi and a group of protesters went to the Kew Motor Inn on Tuesday. Footage shows people sitting on the floor in the lobby as police stand by and other civilians, including a crew from the right-wing outlet Newsmax, recorded the scene.

Twitter user @ViralNewsNYC reported that the protesters retreated to the sidewalk after police threatened to arrest them.

Footage posted by FreedomNews.TV shows the group shouting “America first,” a far-right motto.

A Twitter user said of the footage, “Eric Adams is flooding the boroughs.” Another suggested that the city bus any migrants who arrive from the border to the White House.

Coverage by a right-leaning outlet raises questions about whether the protest targeted the correct motel.

During the protest, a man FreedomNews.TV identified as a lawyer for Kew Motor Inn told the outlet that the owners of the motel did not sign a contract with the city to house migrants.

“They flatly told them ‘no,’ they weren’t going to sign,” he said in footage posted to Twitter. “That’s the end of the story. The people outside, there’s a political campaign going on, and this is the other side of the political campaign.”

The man said that the protest was “for naught” and that the protest’s organizers didn’t provide any evidence that Kew Motor Inn was housing migrants.

“It’s mostly yelling and screaming,” he said of the protest.

Afterwards, Rinaldi continued insisting that there had been a contract between the city and the motel. “The attorney admits in that article that there was a contract in place,” Rinaldi told the Daily Dot via email on Tuesday afternoon. He included a link to an article by FreedomNews.TV in which the attorney denied that the motel owners ever signed any such contract.

Rinaldi did not respond to a follow-up question about whether he had any additional information to confirm that Kew Motor Inn was housing migrants.

Independent journalist Talia Jane said that the protest drew people who previously targeted drag queen story hours.

“[Rinaldi] chose to call for this rally and protest at a location where they did not have any migrants, the result of which was bringing in known individuals active in the far-right and active within conspiracy theorist spaces,” Jane told the Daily Dot in a phone conversation on Tuesday. “Those include the propagandists that showed up.”

Footage from the protest and accompanying press conference shows Rinaldi talking about child trafficking, a particular fixation among far-right groups and conspiracy theorists.

“Almost every young girl that gets forced across the border gets raped 17 goddam times,” Rinaldi yelled at a camera. “Mayor Adams, this is Queens, New York. We are not putting up with this.”

Rinaldi did not respond to a question about whether he is affiliated with far-right groups.

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*First Published: May 24, 2023, 10:46 am CDT