Hip-hop mogul and animal-rights advocate Russell Simmons is comparing New York's horse-drawn carriages to slavery and the Holocaust, saying proponents of the industry are of antiquated a mindset as "people who put people in ovens" at Adolf Hitler's death camps.
"There were people for slavery, remember? Slavery was fine," Simmons said at an event Thursday organized by horse carriage opponents, according to The Wall Street Journal. “There were people who put people in ovens. There are all kinds of ethnic cleansing, people for it.”
Simmons urged Mayor de Blasio to follow through on his campaign promise to ban the horse carriages.
"The horses matter," Simmons said, according to the Journal. "The promises you made matter. You got in office because we put you there. We put you in and we can take you out."
De Blasio said Simmons' remarks didn't bother him.
The mayor said he feels "very clear about the mission" to ban horse carriages. He said some initiatives take longer to accomplish than others.
Asked about Simmons' remarks about slavery and the Holocaust, a mayoral spokeswoman said, "We respectfully disagree with Mr. Simmons's characterizations of all of the above."
New York City councilman David Greenfield, a Brooklyn Democrat who is the grandson of Holocaust victims, called on Simmons to apologize, according to the New York Observer.
Simmons told the newspaper he wouldn't be apologizing but he did not intend to offend the Jewish community.
“I’m not apologizing,” Mr. Simmons told the Observer. “If the councilman is that upset, then I’m sorry, but my intention is not to offend the Jewish community but wake up the human family. We all agree the Holocaust is a horrific event.”
The event was sponsored by the group New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets, which has pushed for the horse-drawn carriage ban.