NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A second night of violent demonstrations in Borough Park — and no arrests — are raising questions about whether the city has a double standard and is being “politically selective” in enforcing the COVID-19 shutdowns.
CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer put the tough questions to Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday.
For the second night in a row, Hasidim in Borough Park protested new coronavirus restrictions. The violence included a vicious attack on Jacob Kornbluh, a reporter for the Jewish Insider, by one of the protest organizers.
“He came towards me without a mask, almost pinning me to the shopfront and started talking to me, spitting into my face,” Kornbluh said. “The crowd just ganged on me… somebody hit me in the head.”
Here’s Heschy egging then on. “He’s lucky time be alive,” one of the protesters told me after.
A few yards away, cops agree to close more streets, joking around with same men who just beat up a reporter pic.twitter.com/UekTnKQqrA
— Jake Offenhartz (@jangelooff) October 8, 2020
Video from the protest Wednesday night and the night before, where fires were set and there were other assaults, show few police and a restrained response. There were no arrests either night.
That was in sharp contrast to the NYPD response to a Black Lives Matter protest in Washington Square Park almost two weeks ago, when hundreds of cops surrounded protesters. Police in riot gear and on bikes rushed into the crowd.
“The police just came and stormed in and took our belongings… They swarmed us. We were peacefully assembled. There was nothing, no violence,” one organizer said at the time.
Pastor Gil Monrose of the 67th Precinct God Squad — community leaders who make sure demonstrators are treated fairly — said that when it comes to policing it’s a tale of two cities, citing unequal treatment.
“I want good policing all across the board. I just don’t want two different sets of policing for two sets of different communities,” he said. “We have to be on the same sheet of music.”
Kramer put the questions to Mayor de Blasio.
“But Mr. Mayor people are saying that they’re not being treated equally,” Kramer said. “What do you say to people who say is an unequal response?”
“Again, Marcia, I disagree with you on the level of presence based on the reports I received that there was more police presence last night than the night before, but what I think is absolutely right is that we need a very, very clear message to all the communities that are affected… instructing the NYPD and the law department and the legal experts on this to get together and come up with a single clear standard.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo claimed the increase in infection might not have happened if the city enforced the law.
“Don’t be politically selective in the enforcement of the law,” Cuomo said. “It can’t be a situation like ‘I enforce the law unless the community is not upset.'”
The city and the NYPD will be put to the test Thursday night if there are more demonstrations.
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