Brooklyn anti-lockdown protest leader arrested for ‘inciting riot’

Heshy Tischler also to be charged with ‘unlawful imprisonment’ over assault of Jewish journalist in Borough Park demonstration; accuses Cuomo, de Blasio of anti-Semitism

New York radio host Heshy Tischler. (Screenshot/YouTube via JTA)
New York radio host Heshy Tischler. (Screenshot/YouTube via JTA)

Heshy Tischler, a radio host turned leader of the Brooklyn anti-lockdown protests, was arrested late Sunday for inciting a riot against Jacob Kornbluh, a Hasidic reporter at Jewish Insider, police said.

“The New York City Police Department Warrant Squad has taken Harold ‘Heshy’ Tischler into custody. He will be charged with inciting to riot and unlawful imprisonment in connection with an assault of a journalist that took place on October 7, 2020, in Brooklyn,” the NYPD announced.

Tischler said Friday that he had been informed he would be arrested.

“I just got a call from the precinct, they will be arresting me Monday morning. I’ll be taken in for inciting a riot,” Tischler said, adding that he would turn himself into the 66th precinct in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, though he might let the police “come get me” instead.

After his arrest, Tischler, or someone running his social media, posted a video of his lawyer confronting police complaining that he was being detained on Sunday night, when they had agreed he would surrender himself on Monday morning.

He also posted a series of tweets accusing New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of unfairly targeting Jewish protesters.

“DeCuomo who’s shutting synagogues for political reasons is now arresting activists for political reasoning,” he tweeted with the hashtags “CuomoHatesJews”  and DeblasioHatesJews.”

New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler tweeted that he was grateful to the NYPD and de Blasio for the arrest, saying “violence perpetrated against journalists, or anyone, must not be tolerated in any community.”

Tischler was widely denounced by elected officials in New York this week after he cornered Kornbluh at a protest in Borough Park on Wednesday night. In a video of the encounter, Tischler is seen screaming at Kornbluh as a mob falls in behind him. “Everybody scream moser,” Tischler yelled at Kornbluh, using a Jewish term for someone who informs on other Jews to secular authorities.

In a tweet shortly after the incident, Kornbluh said he had been punched and kicked by the crowd and that he planned to file charges.

On Friday, Kornbluh spoke at a press conference organized by New York Jewish Agenda, a progressive Jewish organization.

“I hope the investigation will come to a clear conclusion and send the message that everyone, including reporters on the job and every human life, is precious to all of us,” said Kornbluh. “Nobody should feel unsafe walking the streets of New York City.”

Reporter Jacob Kornbluh. (Screenshot/YouTube)

De Blasio called the incident “unacceptable” and “disgusting.”

Corey Johnson, head of the New York City Council, tweeted in support of Kornbluh. “The attack on @jacobkornbluh last night was horrifying and reprehensible. All those involved in this vile act must be held accountable,” he wrote.

On Friday afternoon, messages circulated among Tischler’s supporters encouraging them to show up to his home on Monday morning to support him. “And make sure to have Trump flags,” the message concluded.

The Kornbluh incident was not the only time this week’s protests turned ugly. On Tuesday night, crowds of Hasidic protesters in Borough Park burned face masks on the street and chased a reporter out of the area.

Around 2 a.m. Wednesday morning, a man who was taking video of the protest was chased and hit with a traffic cone. He was later taken to the hospital.

Wednesday night’s protests were the second night of protests amid anger and resentment in New York City neighborhoods facing new coronavirus shutdowns, with some residents saying the state is unfairly targeting Orthodox Jewish communities as it tries to stamp out hot spots before they spread.

Protests erupted in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood Tuesday night after Cuomo announced new restrictions on schools, businesses and houses of worship in some parts of the city and state. And frustration and grievances kept simmering the next day and into Wednesday night.

Cuomo insists the new restrictions are based solely on science and coronavirus case clusters in areas that, in his view, have flouted the state’s existing virus-safety rules.

After becoming the nation’s deadliest coronavirus hot spot this spring, New York wrestled its outbreak down to a steady and relatively low level over the summer.

But infections have been rising in recent weeks, and hospitalizations are starting to follow. There has been an average of 659 COVID-19 patients in hospitals statewide over the past week, up from 426 for the week ending September 6, Cuomo said. During an early April peak, nearly 19,000 coronavirus patients were hospitalized statewide.

Members of the Orthodox community speak with NYPD officers, Oct. 7, 2020, in the Borough Park neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo moved to reinstate restrictions on businesses, houses of worship and schools in and near areas where coronavirus cases are spiking. Many neighborhoods that stand to be affected are home to large enclaves of Orthodox Jews. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

He said a few areas are disproportionately driving the worrisome trends, with over 5% of coronavirus tests coming back positive in 20 hot spot ZIP codes, compared with about 1.3% statewide.

The new rules, which took effect Friday, involve parts of Brooklyn and Queens in New York City, sections of Orange and Rockland counties in the Hudson Valley, and an area within Binghamton, near the Pennsylvania border. Many of the areas are home to large enclaves of Orthodox Jews.

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