Orthodox Jews gather in NYC to oppose coronavirus restrictions
For a second day in a row, hundreds of Orthodox Jewish men hit the streets of Brooklyn to protest new lockdown measures
A New York City Council candidate was arrested in connection to the assault of a Jewish journalist, prompting dozens of protesters to gather outside the journalist's house Sunday for inciting what they're calling an unconstitutional "political arrest."
Harold "Heshy" Tischler was taken into custody by the New York City Police Department Warrant Squad on Sunday night. He was charged with inciting to riot and unlawful imprisonment in connection with an assault of a journalist that took place on Oct. 7 in Brooklyn.
Videos showed dozens of protesters, who appeared to be members of the Orthodox Jewish community, gather outside Jewish Insider national politics reporter Jacob Kornbluh's home after Tischler was taken unto custody. NYPD also responded to the scene, as protesters shouted from the ground up to people standing on the building's balconies.
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The arrest comes after Kornbluh claimed on Twitter last Wednesday that he was “brutally assaulted, hit in the head, and kicked" by hundreds of community members during a protest in Borough Park in Brooklyn. He said the crowd assaulted him while calling him a “Nazi” and “Hitler.” Kornbluh also said Tischler recognized him and ordered the crowd to chase him down the street.
Tischler, a supporter of President Trump running for a spot on the New York City Council, has been organizing protests in response to new restrictions limiting religious gatherings in large Orthodox Jewish communities in Queens and Brooklyn.
In a video message posted before his arrest, Tischler said he received a call from the NYPD’s 66th Precinct informing him he should turn himself in Monday or he would be taken into custody.
“I will be turning myself in – I’m not sure yet – I’m thinking maybe let them come get me, but they’re asking me not to cause any issues in Borough Park and Flatbush,” Tischler said. “I did not commit this crime of violence and no one was arrested that night, so I will of course be pleading not guilty”
He added that Kornbluh is a “very terrible, bad man” and had “harassed” him the night before the alleged assault, yet the district attorney’s office is not filing charges against Kornbluh at this time.
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While the alleged incident was rebuked by politicians like U.S. Rep Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., Tischler claimed the crowd only cornered Kornbluh and criticized Nadler for claiming the Borough Park protest devolved into riots, while also arguing violent demonstrations in Portland were a “myth.” Nadler, Kornbluh and Tischler are all Jewish.
Harold Tischler gathers with members of the Orthodox Jewish community who support President Trump during a protest over new coronavirus restrictions. (Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock)
Tischler also criticized New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who he says did not “care that many Journalists were attacked by mobs who were rioting and looting+ burning police cars at the George Floyd riots,” but instead wants “consequences” after the Borough Park incident.
Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order limiting the size of religious gathering in coronavirus hotspots in some upstate New York counties as well as Brooklyn and Queens.
The restrictions limit houses of worship to up to 25% capacity or a maximum of 10 people in "red zone" clusters, 33% capacity with a maximum of 25 people in orange zones and up to 50% in yellow zones.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto refused to block the executive order after an emergency hearing in a lawsuit brought by rabbis and synagogues who said the restrictions were unconstitutional. They had sought to have enforcement delayed until at least after Jewish holy days this weekend. The federal judge said the state had an interest in protecting public safety.
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Meanwhile, city agents handed out more than $150,000 in fines from 62 summonses in red, orange and yellow coronavirus zones since Friday. That included five summonses issued to noncompliant religious organizations as part of crackdown measures carried out during recent COVID-19 outbreaks in Brooklyn and Queens.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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