Jewish community leaders are condemning New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for a “blatant double standard.” He singled out the Jewish community in enforcing coronavirus restrictions, yet defended protesters who violated social distancing rules in order to protest the heinous police killing of George Floyd. In fact, videos showed police officers dispersing Jewish mothers and their children at a playground while a larger group of protesters gathered in violation of lockdown rules.
“The double standard is blatant and shocking,” Chaskel Bennett, co-founder of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition, told Haaretz. “For months, we have seen our community come under unrelenting scrutiny by ‘gotcha’ media coverage of Hasidic Jews not social distancing or wearing masks, while the overwhelming majority of religious Jews in New York City were doing all the right things.”
“After watching the thousands of protesters given free rein to exercise their constitutional right to protest, it begs the question: Isn’t religious freedom protected by the very same Constitution?” Bennett asked. “Is there one rule of law or selective enforcement? It seems the mayor thinks differently.”
Indeed, de Blasio struggled to defend applying the coronavirus restrictions to protesters and rioters, even while he still applies restrictions on the businesses getting torched and the churches getting burned.
“When you see a nation — an entire nation — grappling with an extraordinary crisis that’s deep-seated in 400 years of American racism. Sorry, that is not the same question as the understandably aggrieved store owner or the devout religious person who wants to go back to religious services,” de Blasio argued at a press conference on Tuesday.
Hizzoner struck an entirely different tone in April.
“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,” 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.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 29, 2020
Yet de Blasio has proven himself utterly feckless in responding to the riots that have wreaked havoc on the city. He has yet to call the National Guard to help police maintain order.
On Tuesday, Sergeants Benevolence Association President Ed Mullins sent a letter to New York police officers, condemning de Blasio’s refusal to call the National Guard.
“I know we are losing the city,” Mullins wrote. “We have no leadership, no direction, and no plan. I know you are being held back and used as pawns. Our officers and supervisors are getting hurt every night DOING THEIR JOBS without any support from our PC or mayor.”
He painted a terrifying picture of the riots: “We run from disturbance to disturbance, fire to fire, looting to looting, exposing our own lives and limbs to maiming and permanent injury, only to be told that we have failed to protect the City. We arrest those that we can, move those who are willing, and try to prevent further chaos everywhere. It is not a sustainable endeavor. We are, simply put, outnumbered.”
Yet on Tuesday, these same outnumbered police officers spent their precious time breaking up a peaceful gathering of Jewish mothers and children at a playground.
Bennet, the same Jewish community leader who condemned de Blasio’s double standard, shared a video showing police evicting mothers and children from parks in Williamsburg “during daylight hours while Manhattan burns after dark.” He called it “a tale of two cities.”
Shameful day & night for our beloved city. Mothers & children evicted from parks in Williamsburg during daylight hours while Manhattan burns after dark. Yes Mr. Mayor a tale of two cities is the sad reality. pic.twitter.com/8IRfJrzsRf
— Chaskel Bennett (@ChaskelBennett) June 2, 2020
Jewish marketing professional Yossi Gestetner provided more context for PJ Media: “Hasidic Jews in Williamsburg Brooklyn a mile away from where thousands were protesting at the same moment without distancing.”
Gestetner also shared a video which he claimed showed New York cops berating a group of Hasidic Jews on the sidewalk while rioters destroyed the city. “As THOUSANDS of protesters are in Manhattan and in Brooklyn tonight in violation of the curfew, [the NYPD] has time to tell Hasidim something about the curfew. What’s the point of this? If 5K Hasidim were out in a protest, you will leave them alone?”
🚨 As THOUSANDS of protesters are in Manhattan and in Brooklyn tonight in violation of the curfew, @NYPDnews has time to tell Hasidim soemthing about the curfew. @NYCPBA @NYCPBA_GC @SBANYPD What’s the point of this? If 5K Hasidim were out in a protest, you will leave them alone? pic.twitter.com/T1z9yIfVYH
— Yossi Gestetner (@YossiGestetner) June 3, 2020
Police arrested hundreds of rioters over the weekend. By early Sunday, the NYPD had arrested 345 people after rioters injured 33 cops and damaged 47 police vehicles, the New York Daily News reported. The massive protests have continued, breaking out into riots again Tuesday night.
Black Lives Matter activists have also condemned de Blasio for failing to reform the police after the horrific death of Eric Garner. After attempting to blame Trump for the riots, Hizzoner defended cops who drove police cars into rioters over the weekend, before reversing that stance earlier this week.
Bill de Blasio may be the most hated man in America, and he may deserve it, too.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.