A rabble of angry ultra-Orthodox protesters gathered in the early hours of Monday morning outside the home of an ultra-Orthodox journalist, hours after the arrest of Heshy Tischler, a leader of the Brooklyn anti-lockdown protests accused of inciting a riot against the reporter.
Jacob Kornbluh, a Borough Park resident, has reported on rising coronavirus infection rates in ultra-Orthodox areas of New York and the behaviors, including relatively infrequent mask-wearing, that may be fueling the rise.
Video posted to social media on Monday showed a crowd gathered outside Kornbluh’s Brooklyn apartment building after his address was apparently circulated in WhatsApp groups and Twitter.
Footage showed people in the crowd shouting “moser”, a Jewish term for someone who informs on other Jews to secular authorities, a charge that some Jewish legal texts say merits the death penalty.
In one video posted by a “Tischler fan account” on Twitter, people can be heard shouting, “Shame on you.”
A man is also heard yelling through a megaphone in a menacing tone, “Good morning, Jacob, we’re all waiting for you.”
Protesting against Muser Kornbluh. pic.twitter.com/niwIwrxUpP
— ⓘ Disputed Heshy (@HeshyTischler) October 12, 2020
Some of the crowd, who all appeared to be maskless, danced and celebrated as police officers guarded the entrance to Kornbluh’s building.
Kornbluh appeared to be safe, tweeting “[Thank you] folks. I love you all.”
There was no immediate comment on the gathering from New York City police.
Tischler, the radio host turned anti-lockdown leader, was arrested late Sunday evening after he cornered Kornbluh at a protest in Borough Park on Wednesday night.
In a video of that encounter, Tischler is seen screaming at Kornbluh as a mob falls in behind him. “Everybody scream moyser,” Tischler yelled at Kornbluh.
Here’s Heschy egging then on. “He’s lucky time be alive,” one of the protesters told me after.
A few yards away, cops agree to close more streets, joking around with same men who just beat up a reporter pic.twitter.com/UekTnKQqrA
— Jake Offenhartz (@jangelooff) October 8, 2020
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.
The attack was widely denounced by city officials and police said after his arrest that Tischler would be charged with inciting to riot and unlawful imprisonment in connection with the assault on Kornbluh.
Video obtained by PIX11 shows the moment Tischler was taken into custody.
Credit: Yoel pic.twitter.com/CX5gJxJGzD
— PIX11 News (@PIX11News) October 12, 2020
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.
In videos shared on WhatsApp, Tischler can be seen complaining about the timing to the officers who had come to arrest him. One says, “I don’t know what happened. This is above us.”
Tischler shouts, “They tricked me. They’re telling everybody that I’m supposed to be arrested tomorrow.” To the officer, he says, “You’re arresting me when we made a deal. We made a deal that I was supposed to be arrested tomorrow.”
As officers lead a handcuffed Tischler to a squad car, he shouts, “You see what they’re doing? You see what they’re doing, guys?” Onlookers jeer the officers.
A GoFundMe that says it is established for Tischler Sunday evening raised more than $10,000 toward a goal of $50,000 in just four hours, mostly in very small increments. “Please help us raise money for Heshi,” says the fundraising page. “He has done so much for the community, now is our chance to show solidarity.”
The assault on Kornbluh was not the only time last week’s protests again virus restrictions turned ugly.
On Tuesday night, crowds of ultra-Orthodox protesters in Brooklyn’s Borough Park burned face masks on the street and chased a reporter out of the area after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new restrictions on schools, businesses and houses of worship in some parts of the city and state.
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.
The protests came 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.
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. Cuomo 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, that 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.