NYC Mayor Shows Up To Help Break Up Funeral, Gets Accused Of Anti-Semitism
Brooklyn, NY – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is in the hot seat after he directed criticism at the Jewish community for a massive funeral gathering held on Tuesday evening in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
De Blasio was already facing derision after a video went viral of the mayor and his wife walking in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park over the weekend, 12 miles from his home in Gracie Mansion, in violation of his own stay-at-home order.
But on Tuesday night, de Blasio went to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn in person to help the New York Police Department (NYPD) break up a gathering of hundreds of Hasidic Jews who were attending a funeral for a popular rabbi, WNYW reported.
Some of the people in the group were wearing face coverings, but most were not, pictures and videos from the scene showed. None were observing social distancing.
After making a personal appearance at the chaotic dispersal of the crowd, the mayor posted a series of tweets that infuriated many New Yorkers.
“Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonite: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic. 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,” de Blasio tweeted.
“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. 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 angry mayor continued in a second tweet.
“We have lost so many these last two months + I understand the instinct to gather to mourn. But large gatherings will only lead to more deaths + more families in mourning. We will not allow this. I have instructed the NYPD to have one standard for this whole city: zero tolerance,” de Blasio posted in a final tweet.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has accused de Blasio of targeting the Jewish community, CNN reported.
“Hey @NYCMayor, there are 1mil+ Jewish people in #NYC,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted. “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.”
Seffi Kogen of the American Jewish Committee castigated the mayor as well.
“It is NEVER ok for an American elected official to single out the Jewish community like this. That de Blasio is the mayor of the most Jewish city in the country makes this that much worse,” Kogen tweeted.
But there were some members of the city’s Jewish community who agreed with de Blasio’s sentiments and said so on social media.
Blue Lives Matter spoke with an observant Jewish law enforcement officer in New York about de Blasio’s remarks and he said that only the Hasidic Jewish community is furious with the mayor.
“Mainstream Jewish communities are happy there’s a politician that has finally opened their mouth to this group,” the officer said. “They flout the rules wherever they go. The level of disdain for civil authorities is obvious – they’re not trying to hide it. But then whenever their shenanigans are called out, they claim it’s because of anti-Semitism.”
The officer said that when police try to do their jobs within the Hasidic community, the residents “call the cops Nazis.”
“It’s blatant,” he told Blue Lives Matter. “It’s the playbook. They do something they’re not supposed to do. If they get called out, they scream anti-Semitism.”
The officer, who is not a fan of the mayor, said that what de Blasio said and did on Tuesday night had nothing to do with religion.
“This isn’t because they’re Jewish. It’s because they’re acting like a--holes,” he said, and then made a startling comparison.
“It’s like claiming police target members of the Westboro Baptist Church because they’re Christian,” the officer explained. “You’re calling them out for their actions not because of their religion.”
The officer also pointed out that city officials had made a stink about a “ride-out funeral” held by members of the Hispanic community in Queens on April 3 and said there was a double-standard.
“People complained about the ride-out in Queens and nobody accused them of being anti-Hispanic for that one,” he pointed out.
He said that as a Jewish law enforcement officer, the happenings in Brooklyn during the coronavirus pandemic have been frustrating.
The officer said the actions of the Hasidic community force officers to risk exposure that they otherwise would not have encountered.
“Their behavior gives people who really are anti-Semitic more ammunition,” he said.
A number of people on social media also criticized de Blasio for attacking the funeral but not the people who gathered outside to watch the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds buzz the city in a patriotic airshow on Tuesday afternoon.
But the officer told Blue Lives Matter that for the most part, those watching the airshow were spread farther apart and while not everyone was properly social distancing, the clusters of people tended to be family groups who were watching the airshow together.
On Wednesday, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea reinforced the mayor's message to the Hasidic community and told them to stop putting his officers at risk, the New York Post reported.
"There was two funerals last weekend for members of the NYPD, we would normally have probably tens of thousands of people at that funeral, we had a handful,” Commissioner Shea said.
“People have to be accountable for their own actions, regardless of what neighborhood, ethnicity, where they come from, we cannot have what we had last night. We will not tolerate it," the commissioner said, and promised to continue to break up funeral gatherings.
“It better not happen again, it can’t… we can talk about this to the cows come home,” he said. “It doesn’t get any crystal clear of this for me. You are putting my cops’ lives at risk, and it’s unacceptable.”