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NYC mayor calls large gathering for rabbi's funeral 'unacceptable,' Jewish leaders condemn comments

Posted at 6:39 AM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 10:41:52-04

NEW YORK CITY — Video taken from the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn on Tuesday night shows police dispersing hundreds of people who filled a street for a local rabbi's funeral.

The video shows a crowd of hundreds from Brooklyn's Hasidic community, many wearing masks, as police officers and vehicles tried to disperse them. The NYPD confirmed that it did not make any arrests during the incident.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who went to Brooklyn to see the situation for himself, later condemned the gathering in a series of tweets, calling the gathering "unacceptable."

"My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed," de Blasio tweeted. "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. We have lost so many these last two months and I understand the instinct to gather to mourn. But large gatherings will only lead to more deaths and more families in mourning. We will not allow this. I have instructed the NYPD to have one standard for this whole city: zero tolerance."

The tweets ignited a firestorm of criticism from city leaders and more on social media.

This has to be a joke. 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!) https://t.co/LYKnUZm2Mc

— Councilman Deutsch (@ChaimDeutsch) April 29, 2020

Many noted the mayor's tweets came hours after a military flyover Tuesday afternoon in NYC brought large crowds out to watch — many of whom were not adhering to socially distancing practices.

"I empathize with the desire to mourn those we've lost, but this is absolutely unacceptable," said Freddi Goldstein, the mayor's press secretary in a separate tweet.

This story was originally published by Corey Crockett, Anthony DiLorenzo and Mark Sundstrom on WPIX in New York City.