For everyone who has watched New York City officials allow tens of thousands of protesters gather every day without enforcing social distancing rules or bans on public gatherings, take heart! Mayor Bill de Blasio and his police force have drawn the line and are taking action. The NYPD singled out a group and demanded they disperse immediately because the ban on gatherings remains in place.
No, they weren’t going after looter, rioters, or arsonists, and they were not addressing throngs of peaceful protesters. Instead, they were berating Hasidic Jewish moms and children who’d gathered socially in parks across the Williamsburg section of the city.
This isn’t the first sign of friction between the mayor and the New York Jewish community over the lockdown.
On April 28 Mayor 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.”
New Yorkers of all stripes could be forgiven for thinking that edict had passed, given that the mayor has claimed that he stands with protesters who, by definition, are gathering in large groups. But it appears that the rules don’t apply evenly.
Chaskel Bennett, co-founder of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition, told Haaretz:
“The double standard is blatant and shocking. 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? Is there one rule of law or selective enforcement? It seems the mayor thinks differently.”
Bennett’s question answers itself. Of course there is selective enforcement.