New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the assault of Orthodox journalist Jacob Kornbluh by a crowd in Borough Park was “disgusting” and vowed that police will have a more organized response if further unrest breaks out Thursday night.
Kornbluh, a reporter for Jewish Insider, was assaulted by a mob of protesters Wednesday night during the second straight night of protests that turned violent in Borough Park, a heavily Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhood. The protests oppose restrictions that have been imposed because Borough Park is experiencing a spike in coronavirus cases.
“I saw the video of the attack on Jacob Kornbluh, it’s absolutely unacceptable,” de Blasio said at a press conference Thursday. “Disgusting, really. I mean, here’s a journalist who really cares about doing the work of informing people what’s going on and here’s a mob of people attacking him. It’s just unacceptable. There need to be consequences for that.”
The assault on Kornbluh came a day after another Orthodox proponent of mask wearing was beaten up at a protest that also saw people burn masks in the street. No one has been arrested from either protest.
De Blasio said he was unsatisfied with the police response. “There were some issues yesterday, honestly, in terms of the NYPD’s approach,” he said, adding that police and the city’s lawyers are expected to announce clear guidelines Thursday as to how the NYPD will respond to potential unrest at night.
“There is something here that needs to be fixed right away,” de Blasio said. “It will be fixed today and made public. Violence is unacceptable regardless of who commits it.
“There clearly need to be consequences for the people involved and I don’t know why that hasn’t happened already, and it needs to happen,” he added.
He also rejected the claim that anti-Semitism was fueling enforcement of the regulations in Borough Park and other heavily Orthodox neighborhoods where COVID-19 cases have spiked.
“We’re trying to save everybody’s lives in every community,” he said. “We’re trying to protect people from a virus that took the lives of tens of thousands of New Yorkers and that shut down the whole city. This is only about the data and the science and we’re applying it evenly to all communities with respect, with understanding.”