The religious Jews of Brooklyn's Borough Park neighborhood took to the streets for the second night in a row to protest the new social-distancing restrictions that Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have installed in the neighborhood and eight other ZIP codes that make up more than double the city's positivity rate for the novel coronavirus.
Forward reported that though Heshy Tischler—a community agitator and candidate for New York City Council—promised no violence after a counter-protester was beaten to the point of suffering critical injuries, a Hasidic journalist was cracked in the head, kicked, and scolded as a "Nazi" during Wednesday's gathering of more than 300.
“Here is my army!” Tischler said Wednesday night, pointing to a crowd of Orthodox Jews of all ages, with some coming in from outside the neighborhood. "We're gonna fight back. This is our city, our town, our country."
Large swaths of Orthodox Jews gathered around a cardboard fire in the streets to protest the lockdown orders—some even waving Trump flags. Some were seen throwing facemasks into the fire and celebrating.
Jorge Ventura Media's Twitter account captured a number of short interviews with members of the Jewish community to gauge what it was they were protesting.
One young man said that Cuomo and de Blasio were needlessly locking down the Jewish community from being able to take part in their holidays, pointing toward the idea that New York City's leadership has misled the public on the numbers of coronavirus cases.
Another man, who has four children, said that the closing down schools is set to be a catastrophe, charging the strategy of keeping children out of a school as not being based on science but on politics. He said that children are not learning on computers—that they need to be in the classroom.
"Our education is the most important thing," a man named Mendy said, adding that "we cannot have our kids home." He emphasized that the Jewish community cares about health and takes the coronavirus seriously, but that it cannot interfere in the education of children in the area.
Another young Jewish man charged Cuomo and de Blasio with violating their First Amendment rights of being able to freely exercise their religious beliefs, saying that they "shouldn't come just like that, and slap us in our face."
Another Jewish man said: "No matter what we do, the narrative has been written already, so you're always going to hate us, you're always going to think we're some backward people. But no, we're not backwards. We know exactly what's going on out there, and this concept that you can just come into community and argue that our ZIP code, because it's red, and you created that red zone, and you're gonna close us down and and tell us that you can't open when we have a holiday coming up... there will be civil disobedience because that is our right."
This comes as Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that "I have to say to the Orthodox community ... If you're not willing to live with these rules, then I'm going to close the synagogues."