City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea told a news conference on Wednesday that 12 summonses were issued for a variety of offences at the Brooklyn gathering on Tuesday night, which he estimated involved “thousands of people crammed onto one block”. Mayor Bill de Blasio personally oversaw the dispersal of the Hasidic residents in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section who had gathered late on Tuesday for the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Mertz, who died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. A Jewish congregation had worked with police on a plan to close streets so the funeral could adhere to social-distancing rules, said Mitchell Silber, executive director at the Community Security Initiative, a program to protect Jewish institutions. Both the rabbi’s congregation and the police were surprised at the number of people who attended, he said. “This was a single event, planned by one congregation. The troubling incident last night should not negatively reflect on Hasidim, the Williamsburg community, Orthodox Jewry or the entire Jewish community,” Silber told Reuters. Some Jewish leaders criticised de Blasio, who wrote on Twitter late on Tuesday that he had instructed the city’s police department to “summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups”. “This is… Read full this story
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