Hundreds of members of an Orthodox Jewish community in New York City protested new state restrictions on areas with a surge in coronavirus cases, while a group of lawmakers and a Catholic bishop also opposed the proposed crackdown.
Protesters in the neighborhood of Borough Park, Brooklyn blocked traffic Tuesday evening and lit a “small garbage fire” according to the city fire department.
Some threw pieces of cardboard and masks into the flames, NBC New York reported.
They responded to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement Tuesday that they would put new restrictions in areas with the greatest clusters of cases that would limit attendance at places of worship to a capacity of 25 percent, up to a maximum of 1
Four elected officials representing strongly Orthodox neighborhoods issued a joint statement Tuesday evening saying they were “appalled” by the governor’s actions.
“The total lack of coordination and communication between his government and local officials has been a persistent problem since the pandemic began, especially in recent times when we have faced this boom,” said Senator Simcha Felder, Member of the Simcha Eichenstein State Assembly and City Council member Chaim Deutsch and Kalman Yeger.
“Although we are the representatives of the ‘hotspots’ neighborhood, we have been excluded from discussions with the governor and his leadership team because they have made devastating decisions that affect the people we serve.”
Legislators added that the move felt aimed at the Orthodox Jewish community and that it was “shameful” that Governor Cuomo imposed new restrictions during the celebration of Sukkot.
Brooklyn’s Roman Catholic Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio also issued a press release against the plan.
“Catholic churches in Brooklyn and Queens have had no COVID outbreaks or significant cases of 25% capacity since reopening on July 5,” DiMarzio said. “The safety of parishioners is paramount to the Diocese of Brooklyn, but our parishioners’ freedom of religion is being unjustly attacked.”
The governor said in a tweet on Wednesday that the state sees the measures as necessary.
“In the hotspot’s zip codes, the positivity rate is 5.1%,” Cuomo tweeted. “We’re taking quick action to respond to the clusters and stop the spread.”
The partial blockage for nine hot-spot zip codes is expected to come into force “no later than Friday”, according to the governor’s office.
Authorities said no arrests were made in the street protests as firefighters and police officers put out the fire and dispersed the crowd early Wednesday morning.
An unidentified man was physically molested by a large group of protesters, but it was unclear what led to the incident, New York Sheriff Joseph Fucito told NBC News.
“The MPs took the person into protective custody, put them in a vehicle for safekeeping and drove them away from the crowd,” Fucito said in an email.
Heshy Carpenter, who lives in the community, was among the participants in the demonstration.
According to NBC New York, Carpenter asked the crowd, “Mr. Cuomo, Mr. de Blasio, think we’re nobody. Are we nobody? “In response, he was answered with a resounding ‘no’.
Mayor de Blasio said at a press conference on Wednesday that the new restrictions will remain in place for at least two weeks.
Mass gathering rules violations can result in fines of up to $ 15,000.
“It’s up to all of us,” said the mayor. “I feel for everyone in the churches who will be affected. If we act quickly and decisively, we can overcome this for all of us, for the whole city. We have to stop this outbreak. “