Bill de Blasio ‘sorry’ if Jewish community felt ‘singled out’ by arrest threat after 7,000 gathered at huge funeral – The Sun
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio apologized to the Jewish community if they felt "singled out" by his his arrest threats after enormous Brooklyn funeral – but he described it as "tough love."
During the mayor's press briefing Wednesday, NYC Commissioner Dermot Shea confirmed the NYPD issued 12 summons after thousands "crammed onto one block" at a rabbi's funeral yesterday.
De Blasio announced the City's "zero tolerance" measures on Tuesday after members of the Orthodox Jewish community gathered for a funeral in Williamsburg amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"I spoke last night out of passion," the mayor said of his Twitter comments about the incident. "I could not believe my eyes, it was deeply deeply distressing.
"I regret if the way I said in any way gave people [that] feeling … But it was tough love.
"Members of the jewish community were putting each other in danger and putting our police officers in danger."
The mayor clarified that he had "no regrets" about highlighting the issue the night before.
"We are beyond asking people to comply," Shea agreed. "We cannot have what we had last night irrespective of any religion, any race, in any part of this city."
The police commissioner repeatedly pointed out that the actions of the people attending the rabbi's funeral yesterday also put critical workers and cops at risk.
"We grieved this weekend for two former detectives – but we did not come out by and large," Shea told reporters.
De Blasio and Shea said that all New Yorkers would be aware of social distancing measures two months into the crisis.
The mayor declared there would be more summons and arrest if communities continued to defy local and state orders.
The mayor ordered the NYPD to arrest people who are found flouting social distancing rules, announcing the city's zero-tolerance towards rule-breakers.
"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 tweeted Tuesday night.
The New York City Mayor said in a series of tweets that he's ordered the NYPD to start arresting people who do not heed social distancing guidelines throughout the city.
His warning came after members of the Jewish community allegedly met for a large funeral gathering of a Rabbi Chaim Mertz, who died from coronavirus, as reported by the The Hill.
De Blasio himself was on the scene as the NYPD broke up the gathering.
"Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonite: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic," de Blasio first tweeted.
"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," he added.
New York City remains the nation's coronavirus epicenter, with over 295,000 of the nation's more than one million confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Nearly 23,000 New Yorkers have died of the virus – accounting for more than a third of the nation's total virus deaths.
In another tweet, de Blasio said that people will no longer receive warnings – and that action will be taken if they are found violating orders.
"My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed," he tweeted.
He added in a separate 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."
Some slammed DeBlasio's response, questioning if he would have criticized other religious groups in the same way.
Others noted how people who gathered to watch the Blue Angels flyover earlier in the day were not met with the same criticism.
"The Blue Angels flyover in NY City today was beautiful, but I didn't see any outrage over the lack of social distancing," Joel Petlin, superintendent of the Kiryas Joel School District in a Hasidic Jewish community in New York tweeted.
"That reaction is reserved for Jewish weddings & funerals. Two wrongs don't make a right, but only one wrong makes the news and the condemnation of politicians," he added.
The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council tweeted that “people failed to social distance at a funeral the same day that thousands of New Yorkers failed to distance for 45 minutes to watch a flyover.”
“It is unacceptable that videos of some people in this community failing to social distance is news and is news in a generalized way (“Orthodox/Hasidic Jews”)."
De Blasio's press secretary Freddi Goldstein told The New York Times in a statement: “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.”
De Blasio's orders came the day after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he will extend coronavirus lockdowns in parts of New York past May 15.
“We want to un-PAUSE," Cuomo told reporters at a news conference on Monday.
"May 15 is when the PAUSE regulations expire statewide."
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