New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has come under attack for singling out the Jewish community for breaking social distancing – when he travels 11 miles from his home to go for a walk in Prospect Park.
The lawmaker said Tuesday he has instructed police to arrest mourners at funerals and anyone gathering in large groups in a new ‘zero tolerance’ approach to stop the spread of coronavirus.
But just a few days earlier the mayor and his wife Chirlane McCray were heckled by locals as they walked through Prospect Park in Brooklyn, despite living 11 miles away in Manhattan.
Others noted the crowds that gathered earlier Tuesday to watch a flyover by the Navy´s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds to honor health-care workers but were not similarly treated by officials.
De Blasio had traveled to personally shut down a Orthodox Jewish funeral in Williamsburg after images surfaced on social media of massive crowds gathered for a rabbi who died from coronavirus.
The mayor’s actions have sparked a furious backlash online. Many Twitter users shared pictures from the Holocaust and likened de Blasio’s words and actions to the Nazis.
But de Blasio continued to defend his actions in his daily briefing Wednesday, telling reporters he had ‘no regrets about calling out this danger’. He said: ‘I spoke last night out of passion. I could not believe my eyes, it was deeply, deeply, distressing.
‘People lives were in danger right before my eyes. It was tough love. It has not happened other places, lets be honest. No it is not like people gathering in the park.’ But he added: ‘I won’t tolerate antisemitism.’
Hundreds of people gathered in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for a massive funeral Tuesday evening
Brooklyn, NY: The funeral was held for Rabbi Chaim Mertz who died from coronavirus
New Yorker Darren Goldner took video of the moment he scolded the Mayor saying: ‘Seriously, you guys have a park. You live in park. You don’t need to non-essentially travel to Brooklyn. This is selfish behavior’
Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York: Others noted the crowds that gathered earlier Tuesday to watch a flyover by the Navy´s Blue Angels and the Air Force´s Thunderbirds to honor health-care workers but were not similarly treated by officials
NYC: ‘Only bigots have a problem when a few 100 Hasidim do what thousands of people in the same city have done the same day (not social distance).’ the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council tweeted
Domino Park, Brooklyn, NYC: Pilots from the US Navy joined forces with the Air Force for a dazzling display over New York City
Community leaders from the across the city were quick to rebuke his actions. The Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted: ‘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.’
Councilman Kalman Yeger added: ‘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.’
‘Only bigots have a problem when a few 100 Hasidim do what thousands of people in the same city have done the same day (not social distance).’ the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council tweeted.
De Blasio doubled down on his comments, calling the gathering ‘unacceptable’.
‘We are talking about thousands of people together. We have to understand what it means to hold a large gathering. Some will be sick, some will spread, people as a result will die’, he said.
The mayor said the gathering of mourners Tuesday was ‘by far the largest’ he had seen since social distancing rules were introduced.
NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said: ‘This large gathering is putting members of my department at risk and is going to be met with very stern consequences. There are to be no gatherings in NYC such as what we saw last night.’
He noted that NYPD funerals for officers who have died as a result of the virus have not been carried out in the same manner as norm. Shea confirmed 12 summons were issued for social distancing and refusal to disperse.
But Ed Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, later tweeted: ‘Mayor DeBlasio, YOU cannot instruct the NYPD to violate people’s rights! If you wanted to save lives’ YOU should of closed schools, NOT sold ventilators and NOT tell people to go out to dinner.
‘This event was a funeral this community will NOT leave bodies in their homes for you.’
Mullins later called the mayor an ‘idiot’ in an interview.
De Blasio is pictured traveling to shut down a Orthodox Jewish funeral in Williamsburg
De Blasio, pictured Tuesday had traveled to personally shut down a Orthodox Jewish funeral in Williamsburg after images surfaced on social media of massive crowds gathered for a rabbi who died from coronavirus
De Blasio doubled down on his comments on Wednesday, calling the gathering ‘unacceptable’
Mayor Bill De Blasio and his wife Charlene McCray pose with Kings County Hospital staffers during a 7pm salute in honor to healthcare workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic on April 24 Brooklyn, New York
Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration teams participate in flyover over the Empire State building
Brooklyn Heights Promenade: A formation of US Navy Blue Angels and US Air Force Thunderbirds honor first responders on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic by flying over New York
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio showed up at the Orthodox Jewish funeral and threatened mourners with arrest for ignoring social distancing rules
Shocking photos revealed hundreds of people gathered in the streets to pay their respects to Rabbi Chaim Mertz
De Blasio was filmed strolling with his wife – both in masks – through the historic park on Saturday afternoon.
New Yorker Darren Goldner took video of the moment he scolded the Mayor for forcing an entourage of four SUV security vehicles to drive his family to the park for a nonessential recreational walk in a completely different borough.
‘Seriously, you guys have a park. You live in park. You don’t need to non-essentially travel to Brooklyn. Come on you won’t even open roads for people of all backgrounds. I’m not going to give it a break. This is selfish behavior,’ Goldner said.
De Blasio slammed the Jewish community in a Twitter rant Tuesday night after he had broken up the gathering with the NYPD
By Tuesday de Blasio was slamming Jewish mourners who gathered together, calling their actions ‘absolutely unacceptable’.
He had decided he would personally go to the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Mertz after photos revealed hundreds of people had gathered in the streets to pay their respects.
‘Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonite: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic,’ he wrote.
The mourners were seen crammed in together much closer than the six feet recommended under social distancing guidelines and many people were not wearing face masks.
The mass gathering is also a violation of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order banning non-essential gatherings.
‘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.’
The mayor went on to send a stark warning to the community that the police will issue summons and even arrest people flouting social distancing guidelines.
‘My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed,’ he wrote on Twitter.
Crowds watch the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration teams participating in a midday flyover of New York. They were not threatened with arrest by Bill de Blasio – unlike the mourners in Williamsburg
Critics have pointed out de Blasio did not react to the huge crowds out to watch the flyover on Tuesday in New York City
Many people were not wearing face masks at the funeral Tuesday night in Brooklyn
The mass gathering is also a violation of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order banning non-essential gatherings
‘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.’
De Blasio’s response faced a backlash from some members of the Jewish community who said he was ‘singling out’ the group.
‘This has to be a joke. Did the Mayor of NYC really just single out one specific ethnic community (a community that has been the target of increasing hate crimes in HIS city) as being noncompliant??’ wrote Chaim Deutsch, a City Council member who represents a large Orthodox Jewish population, in a Twitter post.
‘Dangerous choice of words, Mayor — accusing the entire Jewish community of the misbehavior of a minority. Would you dare to say this about any other group in this city?’, The Life editor Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt wrote.
Lis Smith, who works for former Democratic presidential candidate PeteButtigieg, said: ’11 mile chauffeured drive to Prospect Park for me… What in the actual f*ck is this though?’
She added: ‘NYC has been a refuge for Jews fleeing persecution and death for decades and more. How on earth does the mayor of NYC single them out for persecution in the middle of a pandemic? Words do not exist to describe the criminal incompetence at City Hall.’
Former NYPD officer John Cardillo said: ‘This is where @NYPDShea needs to step up and open his mouth. @NYPDnews is not the Gestapo. This is beyond insanity. PC Shea need to very loudly, very clearly, and very harshly condemn @BilldeBlasio’s order to target and round up Jews.’
Republican senator Ted Cruz asked: ‘Would DeBlasio have sent this identical tweet with the word ‘Jewish’ replaced by any other religious minority? If not, why not? Laws should be enforced neutrally w/o targeting religious faith.’
But de Blasio’s press secretary, Freddi Goldstein, said: ‘The mayor has been one of the staunchest supporters of the Jewish community since his earliest days in public service. There were thousands of people gathered today, putting their lives and the lives of others at risk. It is his responsibility to all New Yorkers to speak up.’
Executive editor of The Washington Examiner Seth Mandel wrote: ‘You lowlife cretinous bobblehead. There’s only one community you would address this way. And it’s the one that just went through a pogrom on your watch, as you let it happen.’
De Blasio slammed the mourners on Twitter calling their actions ‘absolutely unacceptable’
The mayor went on to send a stark warning to the community that the police will issue summons and even arrest people flouting social distancing guidelines
‘My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed,’ de Blasio wrote on Twitter
Young children were also seen gathered at the funeral – some of them wearing masks
Critics of his walk in the park noted that De Blasio lives in the Gracie Mansion, the designated residence of New York mayors, on the Upper East Side inside Carl Schurz Park.
When confronted during his stroll de Blasio was seen waving his hand dismissively towards the camera as he walked away from his angry constituent saying, ‘Come on guys, give it a break’.
‘This is so terribly selfish. You call yourself a progressive but you chauffeur yourself to Brooklyn you force people to drive you. This is ridiculous. This is the epitome of nonessential travel,’ eyewitness Goldner continued.
De Blasio lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn, near Prospect Park, before moving to the Gracie Mansion in July 2014.
‘Has he been to a park lately? (What am I saying – of course he has!)’, Councilman Deutsch wrote.
An NYPD officer wearing a mask arrives to try to disperse the crowds Tuesday
A spokesperson for the NYPD said officers did not ticket or arrest anybody at Tuesday’s funeral
The NYPD has been called to break up several funerals and gatherings across the city amid the pandemic.
A spokesperson for the NYPD told the New York Post officers did not ticket or arrest anybody at Tuesday’s funeral.
This comes the same day that Cuomo revealed his 12-step plan to reopening the state and told New Yorkers it would take a ‘miracle’ for New York City to reach the requirements needed to be able to relax lockdown in the next few weeks.
Cuomo’s lockdown officially ends on May 15 but he said on Monday he would extend it for some regions of the state where the data suggests there is still a problem.
In upstate New York, the infection rate is believed to be as low as three percent whereas in New York City, it is nearly 25 percent, according to an antibody study the state is carrying out.
The first step of the plan is to ensure that the region being reopened has seen declining coronavirus cases for 14 days.
New York City is a long way from that benchmark and it continues to make up the vast majority of all COVID-19 deaths and cases in the state.