Virus Outbreak New York

Members of the Orthodox Jewish community wait for school buses to collect them in the Borough Park neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. Hundreds of businesses in New York City neighborhoods where COVID-19 cases have spiked were supposed to be closed Thursday by order of the governor, but in Brooklyn's Borough Park section, some merchants subject to the shutdown order appeared to be operating as usual at midday, including a barber shop, cell phone stores and a toy store.

(The Center Square) – New York City Police officers arrested a prominent Orthodox Jewish activist for his role in leading demonstrations against new COVID-19 restrictions in Brooklyn last week.

Harold “Heshy” Tischler was charged with inciting a riot and unlawful imprisonment related to the assault of a reporter covering the demonstrations on Wednesday.

Demonstrators gathered at Borough Park, where a large enclave of Orthodox Jewish people reside, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo labeled the area as a COVID cluster and implemented a series of new restrictions designed to curb the spread of the virus.

Among the guidelines religious institutions must follow in the cluster is reducing the number of congregants attending worship services to just 25 percent capacity or a maximum of 10 people.

Members of the Orthodox Jewish community protested in the streets and set fires in intersections. Police allege Tischler rallied a large group of demonstrators and urged them to go after Jacob Kornbluh, a political reporter for Jewish Insider. That group then allegedly cornered Kornbluh and attacked him.

Reports also indicate members of the group spat on Kornbluh and called him a Nazi.

The attack on Kornbluh prompted a joint response from Jewish Democratic Council of America and the Republican Jewish Coalition, two groups that often do not find common ground on issues.

“We are unified in our outrage and deep concern about the violence and incitement directed at Jacob for his valuable reporting,” the statement read.

On Friday during an appearance on WNYC, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said an arrest was expected. Even Tischler went to Twitter on Friday afternoon and posted a video saying he would turn himself in on Monday.

In response, dozens of protestors then gathered Sunday at Kornbluh’s house after Tischler was taken into custody, according to the New York Post.

“No Heshy, no peace,” Tischler supporters chanted.

Tischler, who hosts a radio show, ran for New York City Council in 2017 and finished a distant third, garnering less than 4 percent of the vote for the 44th District seat.

The Brooklyn cluster is one of six New York state officials identified as having high COVID positivity rates. The other clusters are located in Broome County, Orange County, Rockland County and two areas in Queens.