Currents News Staff
The NYPD was called in on April 28 as thousands of people of the Orthodox Jewish faith gathered for a funeral in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Crowds of people standing right next to each other — despite social distancing orders — mourning the loss of a rabbi who died of coronavirus.
When Mayor Bill de Blasio found out about the crowds, he went to Williamsburg to see for himself what was going on.
“People’s lives were in danger before my eyes and, I was not gonna tolerate it,” he said on Twitter.
So he instructed the police to hand out summonses or even make arrests, saying in a tweet, “My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed.”
That tweet drew criticism, some saying de Blasio was singling out a religious community, and threatening them in direct violation of their First Amendment Rights. Jonathan Greenblatt, Head of the Anti-Defamation League, blasted de Blasio on Twitter, writing, “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.”
And while former Brooklyn assemblyman Dov Hikind called on the mayor to apologize. saying he shouldn’t have blamed the entire Jewish community for the acts of some. He also spoke to the rule breakers.
“By not following the rules, by gathering in groups, by gathering in funerals by gathering in synagogues, by gathering in other places– it is unacceptable and it must stop!” he wrote.
De Blasio said his message was to all communities and he won’t tolerate anti-semitism. He also apologized, saying “Iif in my passion and in my emotion I said something that in any way was hurtful I’m sorry about that that was not my intention. But I also want to be clear, I have no regrets about calling out this danger and saying we’re going to deal with it very aggressively.”