Bill de Blasio Threatens Mourning NYC Jewish Community With Arrests, Zero Tolerance

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio defended his stringent response to a massive funeral procession of Orthodox Jews mourning a rabbi who had passed away from COVID-19 this week. The Democrat and his staffers denounced the gathering and said that the decision to bring in the New York Police Department to break up the crowd was “about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.”

According to the New York Daily News, a crowd amassed to mourn Rabbi Chaim Mertz, a Hasidic Orthodox leader, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

In a tweet announcing his decision to have the NYPD enforce a zero-tolerance policy on social distancing violations, de Blasio called the gathering “absolutely unacceptable” and said he went to the scene himself to ensure that the crowd was dispersed.

“…What I saw WILL NOT be tolerated so long as we are fighting the Coronavirus,” the mayor said on Tuesday.

“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed,” de Blasio warned the city’s million-plus Jewish residents. “I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups.”

Freddi Goldstein, de Blasio’s press secretary, echoed the mayor’s sentiments and called the gathering “absolutely unacceptable.”

Police soon arrived on the scene to crack down on the gathering.

While NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea put the number of mourners at “several thousand people,” Jewish sources report that the horde was made up of a few hundred people.

The Daily News reports that officers issued 12 summonses to mourners for various offenses such as disorderly conduct.

De Blasio’s response to the gathering was immediately criticized by Orthodox Jewish leaders, some of whom noted that large gatherings in city parks to watch Tuesday’s flyover of Blue Angel and Thunderbird military jets did not receive the same treatment.

“The mayor of this big city rushed to the “scene” and also sent tweets singling out all 1.1 million Jews,” tweeted the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council, sharing photos of a comparable-sized group gathering to watch the spectacle.

In spite of accusations of singling out Jews, de Blasio defended his policy on Wednesday as “tough love.”

“The amount of danger from that gathering is inestimable. People will die because of it, unfortunately,” de Blasio said—though, according to the Daily News, he made no mention of the massive gathering to watch the flyover.

“I am saying unapologetically that this cannot happen,” de Blasio added. “It was said with love, with tough love.”

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