Updated Apr 29, 2020 - Health

Bill de Blasio slams crowds as he intervenes at N.Y. rabbi's funeral

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn on April 14, 2020 in New York City.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in Brooklyn on April 14. Photo: Scott Heins/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, along with police, attempted to break up groups of mourners at a rabbi's funeral Tuesday. De Blasio denounced via Twitter the holding of gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

Details: De Blasio called the large funeral gathering in Williamsburg "unacceptable." "When I heard, I went there myself to ensure the crowd was dispersed," he tweeted. "And what I saw WILL NOT be tolerated so long as we are fighting the Coronavirus." But Some Jewish leaders criticized de Blasio for singling out "one specific ethnic community."

  • "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.
  • "We have lost so many these last two months + I understand the instinct to gather to mourn. But large gatherings will only lead to more deaths + more families in mourning. We will not allow this. I have instructed the NYPD to have one standard for this whole city: zero tolerance," he added.

What they're saying: The organization Jews for Racial and Economic Justice said in a Twitter post that de Blasio was "inviting the antisemitic targeting of Jews & ordering a dangerous escalation of policing, all at once."

  • City Council member Chaim Deutsch, who represents the 48th district in Brooklyn, tweeted, "Did the Mayor of NYC really just single out one specific ethnic community (a community that has been the target of increasing hate crimes in HIS city) as being noncompliant?? Has he been to a park lately? (What am I saying - of course he has!)."
"[S]ingling out one community is ridiculous. Every neighborhood has people who are being non-compliant. To speak to an entire ethnic group as though we are all flagrantly violating precautions is offensive, it’s stereotyping, and it’s inviting antisemitism. I’m truly stunned."
— Chaim Deutsch, via Twitter
  • The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council accused de Blasio in a Twitter post of failing to observe physical distancing.

Of note: More than 17,600 people died of COVID-19 in New York City by Wednesday morning — the highest toll in the U.S., per Johns Hopkins. The city has confirmed over 157,700 cases, according to official NYC Health figures.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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