STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (PIX11) — More than 1,000 people turned out Wednesday night to protest New York City’s plan to open a migrant shelter at the former St. John Villa Academy on Staten Island.

Residents chanted “Send them back” and held signs that read “Close our border.” The city has 206 emergency shelters and continues to look for more spaces to house people.

“Fifty (expletive) feet away is a school from pre-k to 12 years old. Right here! That’s (expletive), and that’s not happening here,” artist Scott LoBaido told PIX 11 News. 

He made a giant lawn sign that reads “No F—– Way!”

The sign now sits on Scott Herkert’s front lawn, adjacent to the former Catholic High School.

“We’re not going to take it anymore. This is, it’s being forced down our throats,” Herkert said.

A spokesperson for Mayor Eric Adams sent PIX11 News the following statement in response to the protest.

As we have emphasized repeatedly, with more than 100,000 asylum seekers that have come through our intake system since spring 2022 and hundreds more continuing to arrive in our city asking for shelter daily, New York City has been left largely alone to deal with a national crisis that demands difficult and swift decision-making. We have opened 206 sites, including 15 large-scale humanitarian relief centers, and are constantly searching for new places to give asylum seekers a place to rest their heads. Most recently, we located the vacant St. John Villa Academy to serve as one of our respite sites for single women and adult families. We understand community concerns and want to assure them that we are working to ensure the site is well-managed. While New York City is leading the nation in welcoming asylum seekers, make no mistake, we cannot continue to do this alone. This crisis demands a broader national solution.”

Spokesperson for Mayor Adams