New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was excoriated online over the extreme steps ordered to keep a park shut in a large Jewish community, but the neighborhood residents forced it open in defiance.
The incident was the latest in a series of troubling examples of a double standard against the Jewish community while others are praised while ignoring social distancing guidelines.
Various videos appeared on social media of workers from the New York City Park Department welding the gates shut at the Middleton Playground in Brooklyn on Monday.
Many on social media blamed Mayor de Blasio and demanded that the park reopen. Critics pointed to the lack of criticism for the many Black Lives Matter protests where participants ignored social distancing guidelines.
Later on Monday, members of the community took matters into their own hands and cut the locks keeping them out of the park.
The parks department told the New York Post that it had gone to the unusual extreme of welding the park gates shut because locks had been cut numerous times previously.
“At this playground, a temporary measure was used to shut the playground after it was breached,” said spokeswoman Anessa Hodgson to the Post. “It will be unwelded today and replaced with a lock.”
But within hours, dozens of Hasidic locals cheered as three men snipped open one of the gates with bolt cutters.
The defiant act found a lot of support online, including that of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who replied, “Bravo.”
Experts have been cautioning against reopening too quickly from the lockdowns over the coronavirus, but many have criticized the competing and often contradictory guidance from experts on the proper virus response.
Here’s more about the religious conflict in New York City:
New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio apologizes for tweet about Jewish funeral