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De Blasio’s threat of arrests to the ‘Jewish community’ did not go over well

(Image: NBC News screenshot)

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ignited a firestorm of backlash after he threatened the city’s entire Jewish community and sent police to break up a large funeral gathering.

The Democrat mayor condemned the “absolutely unacceptable” gathering of hundreds in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood to attend a funeral for a rabbi who reportedly died from COVID-19, issuing his direct criticism and warning in several tweets on Tuesday.


(Source: CBS New York)

“Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonite: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic,” de Blasio tweeted. “When I heard, I went there myself to ensure the crowd was dispersed. And what I saw WILL NOT be tolerated so long as we are fighting the Coronavirus.”

Freddi Goldstein, the mayor’s press secretary, retweeted photos from the scene which was reportedly for the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Mertz, and noted that the mayor “is on the scene and the NYPD is breaking this up.”

Although there were reportedly no summonses issued or arrests made, the New York Police Department dispatched officers to the Bedford Avenue and Rutledge Street area to follow through on de Blasio’s order, Lieutenant John Grimpel told CNN.

In another tweet, de Blasio reiterated the “zero tolerance” policy for the city amid the coronavirus crisis.

With New York seen as the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., and more than 17,000 deaths in New York City attributed to COVID-19, the city’s Hasidic Jewish community has been particularly hard-hit.

“The city does not track deaths by religion, but Hasidic news media report that roughly 700 members of the community in the New York area have died from” the coronavirus, The New York Times reported.

But the mayor, who has already earned plenty of criticism for launching a hotline this month encouraging New Yorkers to report one another for violating social distancing rules, came under fire for his direct message to the Jewish community.

“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed,” de Blasio tweeted. “I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.”

The Anti-Defamation League’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt immediately called out the mayor for “generalizing against the whole population.”

“Hey @NYCMayor, there are 1mil+ Jewish people in #NYC. The few who don’t social distance should be called out — but generalizing against the whole population is outrageous especially when so many are scapegoating Jews. This erodes the very unity our city needs now more than ever,” he tweeted.

New York City Councilman Kalman Yeger slammed de Blasio’s “unacceptable” condemnation of the Jewish community.

“Mr. Mayor, your words are unacceptable. To condemn our entire community over one group of people is something you would not do to any other ethnic group, and I know you long enough to know that you know this,” Yeger tweeted.

Critics from both sides of the political aisle condemned de Blasio, who was recently called out by one New York resident for defying his own stay-at-home order and traveling to Brooklyn for his daily walk.

Frieda Powers

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