Orthodox Jewish protesters take to NY streets
Jews in Brooklyn’s Orthodox neighborhoods came out this week to protest against New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio’s and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s bias in instituting restrictions that they say unfairly target the religious community.
“I understand you need to wear a mask. I understand you social distance. What bothers me is: You pick on the good people,” said Brooklyn resident Meir Nimni.
“He argued that Orthodox Jewish gatherings were being singled out for a clampdown, noting that huge crowds convened this spring for racial injustice protests where destruction and violence sometimes broke out,” says the Associated Press (AP).
“Everybody here wants to live, and everybody cares” about their health, Nimni told the AP. But he saw a double standard that’s “just not fair.”
Videos posted on social media show men gathered on a crosswalk burning masks in a small bonfire to protest the restrictions placed on the Orthodox Jewish community during a Jewish holiday.
“Mr. Cuomo seemed to be specifically targeting Orthodox synagogues that have become scenes of large gatherings of worshipers clustered together, with many not wearing face coverings. The governor has used photos of packed crowds of Orthodox Jews this week to make the case for imposing restrictions in certain areas,” says the New York Times.
The Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn also denounced the measures that they say unfairly punish those who have been strictly following the government mandated protocols.
“It is outrageous that after incurring great expense to implement all the safety protocols, our parishes are being forced to reduce capacity to a maximum of 10 people in the red zone and 25 people in the orange zone,” said Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. “A capacity range of 10 to 25 people is disrespectful to Catholics and to the clergy who all have followed the rules.”
Others had objections on less spiritual grounds, saying that neighborhood businesses were just getting back on their feet and the latest government mandate could mean some close down permanently.
“To shut down almost all of south Brooklyn and punish small businesses that have reopened safely will be an overwhelming setback to the borough’s economic recovery,” Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Randy Peers said in a statement according to the AP.
COVID restrictions have been hard on religious communities that say local and state governments have ignored protest from allied left-wing rioters over First Amendment concerns while trampling on the equal protection of the First Amendment rights of communities of faith.
Over 30 U.S. senators recently signed an amicus brief supporting a church lawsuit in Washington D.C. that argues “that several mass protests have been permitted in recent months and the selective enforcement against the church violates First Amendment rights and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA),” says local WZFG radio.
“Whether viewed as a matter of free speech, the freedom of assembly, or the free exercise of religion protected by the Constitution and RFRA, the result is the same: The [DC] Mayor’s discrimination against houses of worship rests on a mistaken, and unconstitutional, premise that one particular exercise of free speech—a church’s desire to gather together and worship their God—is subordinate to other First Amendment-protected activities,” says the brief.
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