Police disperse crowd after scores turn out for funeral of rabbi in New York


Scores of people turned out for the funeral of a rabbi in New York City on Tuesday, prompting the police to break up the gathering, officials confirmed to The Hill.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) confirmed that police were dispersing the crowd gathered in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn to honor Rabbi Chaim Mertz, who reportedly died from the coronavirus.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said the mayor himself was on the scene with Police Commissioner Dermot Shea breaking up the crowd of mourners.

De Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein retweeted photos of Mertz’s funeral on Tuesday night, writing, “I empathisize [sic] with the desire to mourn those we’ve lost, but this is absolutely unacceptable.”

The mayor tweeted that such gatherings “WILL NOT be tolerated so long as we are fighting the Coronavirus.”

“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period,” he wrote.

“We have lost so many these last two months + I understand the instinct to gather to mourn. But large gatherings will only lead to more deaths + more families in mourning. We will not allow this. I have instructed the NYPD to have one standard for this whole city: zero tolerance,” he added.

New York City police have broken up other funerals since social distancing regulations have been put in place, including multiple funerals in the Hasidic Jewish community, People magazine reported.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has issued a stay-at-home order for the state, permitting people to leave their homes only to obtain essentials like groceries and medicine or to exercise while staying at least six feet away from other people.

New York City has more than 157,000 coronavirus cases and more than 40,500 hospitalizations. The city has at least 11,820 confirmed coronavirus deaths and nearly 5,400 more deaths of those who did not have a positive lab test but whose death certificate listed COVID-19, according to city data.

Tags Andrew Cuomo Bill de Blasio Coronavirus COVID-19 Funeral New York New York City New York Police Department
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