BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, April 29, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has threatened the “Jewish community, and all communities” with arrest if they gather in large groups during the city’s ongoing coronavirus lockdown.
Mayor de Blasio posted two tweets yesterday evening in response to a funeral reportedly attended by hundreds of Orthodox Jews, who gathered in the streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Images from the event show that many of those in attendance wore face masks. Some images show large numbers of people closely grouped together, less than the recommended six feet apart.
“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 wrote.
“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.”
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
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 29, 2020
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.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 29, 2020
The New York Post has reported on a number of similar events in recent weeks, with multiple funerals held by Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn reported to have broken so-called social distancing rules.
But the New York City mayor has come under criticism for his latest tweet, with Fox News host Laura Ingraham reminding people that de Blasio encouraged New Yorkers as late as March 15 to visit their local bars.
All New Yorkers should remember this, from a mayor who was telling folks on March 15 to go out to bars. https://t.co/dgTmPOduHg
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) April 29, 2020
New York Post editor Sohrab Ahmari called de Blasio’s threat possibly “the worst tweet by a New York elected officials [sic] — ever.”
Good Lord, this might be the worst tweet by a New York elected officials — ever. https://t.co/FmbdFmuTIf
— Sohrab Ahmari (@SohrabAhmari) April 29, 2020
The mayor has also come under fire for having been filmed going out for a walk more than ten miles from his home, despite having urged New Yorkers to report on others for breaking lockdown restrictions.
De Blasio stood by his tweets, saying, “I have no regrets about calling out this danger,” according to the New York Times. The Times reported:
At his Wednesday briefing, the mayor repeated the point, saying that he had a long-held relationship with the Orthodox Jewish community.
“The notion that people gather in large numbers and even if they didn’t mean to would spread a disease that will kill other members of the community is just unacceptable to me,” he said.
He added: “Members of the Jewish community were putting each other in danger. They were putting our police officers in danger.”
Jewish leaders and others pointed out that Mr. de Blasio’s Tuesday diatribe came on the same day that New Yorkers clustered in large dense crowds to watch a flyover by the Blue Angels fighter-jet squadron and accused the mayor of a double standard.
Mr. de Blasio offered a limited apology on Wednesday, but said that he would not stand for anyone violating social distancing guidelines.
“If I see it in any other community, I’ll call that out equally,” he said. “If 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 I want to deal with it very, very aggressively.”
Last month de Blasio warned that churches and synagogues that break lockdown rules could be closed permanently.
“I want to say to all those who are preparing the potential of religious services this weekend — if you go to your synagogue, if you go to your church and attempt to hold services after having been told so often not to, our enforcement agents will have no choice but to shut down those services,” de Blasio announced during a press conference streamed online.
“Again, I’m sorry I have to tell you this, but anyone who’s hearing this, take it seriously. You’ve been warned, you need to stop services. Help people practice their faiths in different ways, but not in groups, not in gatherings that could endanger people.”
This article was updated at 12:43 p.m. EST to include de Blasio’s Wednesday comments.