Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will address the United Nations General Assembly today. According to Iranian media, his speech will focus on global management and fundamental reform of the U.N.
Protests are expected around the city before and during the Iranian leader’s time at the podium.
Security has also been tight at Manhattan’s Warwick Hotel, where Ahmadinejad is staying.
Last year, the Iranian president held a news conference there and had 30 police officers and two firefighters assigned to him full-time.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city spends the money because of the U.N.’s importance to our economy.
“It doesn’t mean you endorse it. It doesn’t mean you like it,” Bloomberg said. “You’d prefer something else but the truth of the matter is, if you want the United Nations – and we really do this is a very big part of our economy. You just can’t say no.”
The group United Against Nuclear Iran has also been protesting outside of the Warwick, demanding the hotel “reconsider its decision to host Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his cohorts during their stay,” according to the group’s website.
Protestors have been peddling around the Warwick and the U.N. with “bicycle billboards” condemning Iran, its leader and the hotel.
This afternoon, the group plans to continue its protest outside the hotel with an Ahmadinejad impersonator and street performances.
The Iranian president was also expected to dine with a group of Columbia University students, but according to the school’s newspaper the Columbia Spectator, that meeting was cancelled.
As many as 15 members of the Columbia International Relations Council and Association were originally invited and hundreds of students were expected to turn out to condemn the meeting.
Despite the dinner’s cancellation, a couple dozen students still gathered on Columbia’s campus to protest Ahmadinejad’s human rights record.
Meanwhile, as Ahmadinejad was arriving in New York Wednesday, Iran released two American hikers who have been held for two years on suspicion of spying.
Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were released under a $1 million bail deal. They had been in Iranian custody since 2009.