De Blasio Defends Breaking Up Tightly Packed Hasidic Jewish Funeral

Date: 2020-04-29 19:41:46

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio defended his tweets criticizing a large Jewish funeral on Wednesday at his daily coronavirus briefing.

The mayor oversaw the dispersal of a large, tightly packed Hasidic Jewish funeral Tuesday night and lashed out at the mourners who had gathered in defiance of social distancing rules intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed,” de Blasio tweeted after police dispersed the funeral in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

In another tweet, de Blasio said, “Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonite: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic.” He said he went there to ensure that the crowd was broken up and added, “what I saw WILL NOT be tolerated so long as we are fighting the coronavirus.”

Images posted on social media show hundreds of people on the street for what was reportedly a funeral for a rabbi who had died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Some but not all of the mourners wore face coverings.

There were no arrests, but Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Wednesday that a dozen summonses were issued citing social distancing violations and refusal to disperse.

Critics accused de Blasio of singling out the Orthodox Jewish community for censure when others have violated social distancing rules as well. But on Wednesday, the mayor doubled down on his message saying he spoke out of “real distress” for the community.

De Blasio said he wasn’t singling out the Orthodox community because of its religion, just cracking down on a massive gathering that put the community’s own members and police at risk.

The coronavirus causes only mild symptoms in many, but it can cause serious illness or death for some, particularly older adults and those with certain health conditions.

The U.S. ranks first in the world in number of confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Worldwide, the outbreak has infected more than 3.1 million people and killed over 218,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally based on figures supplied by government health authorities around the globe, though it has become increasingly clear that the true numbers are much higher.

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