New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday blamed the unrest in Brooklyn Jewish communities on New York City’s lackluster enforcement of its mask mandate.
During a call with reporters, Cuomo slammed members of the New York Police Department for not wearing masks while cracking down on a Wednesday protest against revamped restrictions on school and religious services in many Orthodox Jewish communities. The protest drew hundreds of people, some reporting violence, and was the second after the restrictions went into effect Tuesday.
Cuomo said that the Orthodox Jewish community was responsible for spreading the disease in the first place, saying that “if we’d enforced the law, we wouldn’t be having this problem because we wouldn’t be having this spread.”
“The ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, what’s happening there is the rules were never enforced in these communities,” Cuomo said, according to the New York Daily News. “If we had enforced the law, we wouldn’t be here. If we had enforced the law, it would not be outrageous that we are now enforcing the law.”
Cuomo also laid blame on Mayor Bill de Blasio for his “ineffective government” during the coronavirus pandemic. De Blasio has faced widespread criticism for his handling of the virus, especially from Orthodox Jewish communities, many of whose leaders have said that in the past few months, the mayor has singled them out for harsher treatment in lockdowns.
The latest restrictions brought yet another example of these charges. They were announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday, coinciding with the celebration of the Jewish holiday Sukkot, meaning that many people affected were not able to access their phones or the internet to learn about them until hours afterward.
Daniel Rosenthal, a Jewish member of the New York State Assembly from Queens, said on Twitter that the timing of de Blasio’s announcement showed an “incompetence and lack of sensitivity towards the Jewish Community” during the pandemic.
Jewish leaders in the city also criticized Cuomo for his remarks, consistent throughout this week, that the rise in coronavirus cases is due to a lack of mask-wearing in Orthodox Jewish communities. Cuomo, at one point in a press conference, used a picture of Orthodox Jews to point out his issues, which drew a rebuke from Tuesday from four Jewish state assemblymen and members of the New York City Council.
“Governor Cuomo’s choice to single out a particular religious group, complete with a slideshow of photos to highlight his point, was outrageous,” they said. “His language was dangerous and divisive, and left the implication that Orthodox Jews alone are responsible for rising Covid cases in New York state. This implication is not born out by the state’s own data.”
Under the new restrictions, a failure to wear a mask or socially distance in public can result in a $1,000 fine, de Blasio said.
Andrew Cuomo blames unrest in Jewish communities on lack of mask enforcement The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Washington Examiner.