Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday vowed not to tolerate violent unrest over the state’s new round of coronavirus restrictions — the morning after Hasidic protesters in Brooklyn set a fire and attacked a photographer without any apparent NYPD action.
“The NYPD will not tolerate people doing harm to others. There will be no tolerance for setting fires,” said de Blasio in his daily press briefing. “If anyone commits an act of assault, of course there will be consequences.”
The NYPD reported no arrests made or summonses issued at the chaotic demonstration Tuesday night in the Hasidic enclave of Borough Park, packed with several unmasked men.
The uproar came hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a new round of restrictions for large segments of Brooklyn and Queens, including the closure of non-essential businesses and capacity restrictions on houses of worship in the areas experiencing the worst coronavirus outbreaks.
Even as he once again promised a crackdown, de Blasio on Wednesday said he understood the frustrations of those up in arms over basic pandemic precautions.
“This is an emerging new reality,” he said.
A state mask mandate has been in place since April, and the city already went through a months-long shutdown of businesses and schools, as well as limitations on houses of worship.
As the virus receded, businesses and schools were allowed to reopen — only for the bug to mount a comeback in pockets of Brooklyn and Queens, many of which are home to sizable Orthodox Jewish populations.
Hizzoner has strongly defended the city’s enforcement efforts on coronavirus violations, insisting that the resurgence was inevitable.
In a briefing of his own on Wednesday, Cuomo said that the second wave of shutdowns wouldn’t have been necessary had all communities followed the rules and local leaders enforced them.
“To the extent there are communities that are upset, that’s because they hadn’t been following the original rules. And that’s why the infection spread, because they weren’t following the rules,” he said. “And the rules weren’t being enforced. The rules weren’t being enforced because the communities didn’t want to follow them.
“I understand that. But that’s why we are where we are. Make no mistake.”
Additional reporting by Craig McCarthy
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