Borough Park protest: Fiery demonstration against NYC COVID cluster restrictions

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Protesters stage fiery anti-COVID restriction demonstration
The coronavirus pandemic hit another fever pitch in Borough Park, Brooklyn overnight. As state and local officials work to crack down on COVID clusters, they are getting some push

BOROUGH PARK, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Hundreds of Orthodox Jews took to the streets overnight to protest the state's restrictions on schools, synagogues and non-essential businesses, marching through Borough Park in large groups and setting a fire in protest.

The protests started at 50th Street and 15th avenue at around 9 p.m.

Another popped up at 13th Avenue and 46th Street, where the crowd set a rubbish fire in the street just before 1:30 a.m. that was put out by firefighters.

WATCH: Raw video of Borough Park protest

Raw Video: Video from the Citizen app overnight showed the fire, as well as a large group of Orthodox Jewish protesters, young men openly defying social distancing guidelines, shou

The group chased away two city sheriff's deputies while chanting "Jewish lives matter."

Video from the Citizen app overnight showed the fire, as well as a large group of Orthodox Jewish protesters, young men openly defying social distancing guidelines, shouting and marching, most without masks on.

Police responded and dispersed the crowd. No arrests were made, although at least one person was injured during some of the shoving.

NJ Burkett has more on Governor Cuomo's newly announced rules and restrictions in New York's COVID hotspots.

Councilman Kalman Yeger arrived at one of the protests, telling the group, "We are not going to be deprived of the right that we have in America, like everybody else in America, the right to observe our religion, the right to do it freely, the right to do it without government interference."

Yeger was one of four local politicians included in a statement blasting Governor Andrew Cuomo's closing of private schools and limiting religious gatherings.

"It is disgraceful that Governor Cuomo would impose these restrictions targeting our community in the midst of our Jewish holidays," the statement said. "Because of his unilateral and irresponsible acts, our community is rightfully shocked, angered and highly frustrated. Americans are constitutionally permitted to worship freely, and Governor Cuomo may be assured that we intend to exercise that right without his interference. G-d Bless America."

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The anger was felt across the religious spectrum.

Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said in his own statement that Cuomo's rules are unfair to Catholic churches, which have responsibly managed the pandemic.

"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," the statement said. "To think that some of our churches have the capacity to hold a thousand people for Mass, a capacity range of 10 to 25 people is disrespectful to Catholics and to the clergy who all have followed the rules and, as such, have prevented a spike in COVID cases within the confines of the hot zones."

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The sense of doom grew, especially after March 1, when the first confirmed case arrived in Manhattan. Soon, there was a hotspot in New Rochelle, and small curfews and containment zones across the area offered a hint of a frightening future we still thought we could avoid.

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