On Sunday, protesters marched outside Brooklyn Museum in support of a Black Trans Lives Matter rally. On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio marched with protesters to support Black Lives Matter.
However, also on Monday, de Blasio had a gate to a park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with a large Orthodox Jewish Community welded shut ostensibly because kids may violate social distancing while playing.
In one video, New York City Parks Department workers can be seen welding shut the metal gate to the Middleton Playground.
In response, in another video, Orthodox Jews can be seen using a wire cutter to cut the metal chain that locked the gates and parks to allow their children to go play.
“They can’t keep them locked up, on the fifth floor, for three months,” Rabbi David Niederman said as reported by ABC 7 New York. “It’s impossible.”
Tens of thousands of Hasidic Jews live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
“We’re not going to allow people to take the law into their own hands,” Mayor de Blasio said on Tuesday. “People are not allowed to open up a playground that’s not yet available to the public.”
This incident raises questions of hypocrisy, and leaves people to wonder why de Blasio continues to close parks and playgrounds in Jewish communities, while taking part in and supporting massive protests where many people, including de Blasio himself, were not practicing social distancing.
On May 26, following President Trump’s executive order deeming religious services “essential,” Mayor de Blasio tweeted his opposition to reopening houses of worship. “Every person of faith would love to resume services – but our faith leaders know now it’s still too soon [to reopen] … We cannot have large numbers of people congregating.”
But on June 1, de Blasio tweeted his support for the mass protests as a result of the death of George Floyd. “We support and protect peaceful protest in this city,” he tweeted. “The demonstrations we’ve seen have been generally peaceful and their message must be heard.”
This is not the first time de Blasio has faced fierce criticism for hypocrisy and potentially anti-Semitic remarks and actions.
On April 1, The Daily Citizen reported that Mayor de Blasio threatened to “permanently close” churches and synagogues that defied his stay-at-home order. “A small number of religious communities, specific churches and synagogues, are unfortunately not paying attention to this guidance,” de Blasio said. “If you go to your synagogue… [we] will… potentially close the building permanently.”
On April 29, The Daily Citizen also reported on Mayor de Blasio’s singling out of the Jewish community for targeted enforcement of New York City’s stay-at-home order. “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 saving lives. Period.”
De Blasio’s tweet was in response to thousands of Jewish mourners who gathered in the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn following the death of a Jewish rabbi.
But on June 4, Mayor de Blasio attended a large memorial for George Floyd in Brooklyn, New York.
After announcing New York Cities reopening plans earlier this month, two Catholic priests and three Orthodox Jewish congregants filed a lawsuit against Mayor de Blasio for creating a “veritable dictatorship” by selectively reopening certain the city while keeping churches and synagogues closed.
As the lawsuit alleges, the three Orthodox Jewish plaintiffs are still subject to a 10-person limit for their worship services. Meanwhile, “the defendants (Mayor de Blasio) … are permitting closely packed gatherers of thousands to protest the wrongful death of George Floyd.”
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