NEW YORK CITY — Protests erupted in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn’s for a second night Wednesday over New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new restrictions on schools, businesses and houses of worship in the New York City “cluster zones” that are seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases.
Some residents in those “cluster zones” have said the state is unfairly targeting Orthodox Jewish communities as it tries to stamp out hot spots before they spread.
Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have insisted the new restrictions are based solely on science and data around coronavirus-case clusters.
Demonstrations turned violent Wednesday night when a journalist was allegedly attacked by a group of protesters he said surrounded him and kicked and hit him.
Jacob Kornbluh, who identified himself as a reporter for jewishinsider.com, said hundreds of community members attacked him, calling him a “nazi” and “Hitler.”
I was just brutally assaulted, hit in the head, and kicked at by an angry crowd of hundreds of community members of the Boro Park protest — while yelling at me “Nazi” and “Hitler” —after Heshy Tischler recognized me and ordered the crowd to chase me down the street
— Jacob Kornbluh (@jacobkornbluh) October 8, 2020
NYC Councilmember Chaim Deutsch tweeted that he was “disgusted” by the report of the attack and stood in solidarity with Kornbluh, writing that it is “NEVER acceptable for a protest to devolve into violence.”
Police said no arrests were made in the second night of protests but said they were looking into the aforementioned incident after a complaint was filed.
While the NYPD said that there had been no reports of fires or destruction of property, a witness who said they were at the protest Wednesday claimed that people had started fires in the streets.
The witness, who wished to remain anonymous, shared video of crowds around flames in a Brooklyn street.
“What we have been witnessing on the streets of Boro Park over the last 48 hours does not reflect the values of our beloved community,” New York State Assembly Member Simcha Eichenstein said in a statement.
Eichenstein added that while he is “deeply saddened and outraged” by Cuomo’s “rhetoric and draconian measures,” he said “violence is never the answer. Ever.”
NYC Councilmember Kalman Yeger denounced the violence on Twitter late Wednesday night.
“Second night in a row, a resident from our community was surrounded and assaulted. THIS IS NOT WHO WE ARE,” he wrote.
Protests first broke out in the area Tuesday night and also reportedly turned violent when a photographer said he was attacked by a group.
The city and state begin strict enforcement Thursday of the new restrictions in Cuomo’s plan.
This story was originally published by Mark Sundstrom and Jennifer Bisram on WPIX in New York City. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.