Police Break Up 100+ Crowd Inside Brooklyn Synagogue, Makes Zero Arrests As NYPD Faces Anti-Semitism Allegations

The New York Police Department (NYPD) on Wednesday morning broke up a crowd of over 100 people inside the Brooklyn Jewish synagogue Congregation Yetev Lev Satmar Ohel Feiga.

The department responded after someone called the city's 311 social services line this morning to report social distancing concerns at the synagogue.

An NYPD spokesperson said the crowd peacefully dispersed after the police spoke to the crowd. There were no arrests.

"This is unacceptable and we are issuing the facility a cease and desist [order] today," said Olivia Lapeyrolerie, a spokesperson for the mayor's office.

In a similar incident, on Monday, NYPD officers discovered 60 children attending class inside an Orthodox Jewish school. The school had been secretly operating in defiance of state and city orders requiring all schools to only teach remotely.

Students of the school dispersed after police arrived. The school's owner pledged not to reopen until allowed by government officials. No further action was taken against the school.

These incidents follow claims of anti-Semitism made against New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio after he issued a threat on April 28 to arrest any members of the Jewish and other communities who gather in large groups during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

At the time, de Blasio criticized Orthodox Jewish attendees of a funeral at the Tola'as Yaakov synagogue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for creating a large crowd.

While de Blasio wrote that he understood the instinct to gather and mourn, he also wrote, "large gatherings will only lead to more deaths + more families in mourning." The mayor added that he "instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups."

However, many criticized the mayor for singling out the Jewish community despite allowing crowds to gather in Central Park and elsewhere during the same week to watch a flyover by Navy and Air Force planes honoring medical, emergency and other essential workers.

New York synagogue
NYPD officers stand guard at the door of the Union Temple of Brooklyn on November 2, 2018 in New York City. Kena Betancur / AFP/Getty

The following day, during De Blasio's daily coronavirus briefing, he apologized for any hurt he caused by his tweets and defended his comments as coming out of "anger," "frustration" and "tough love." He said he has "a lot of love" for the Jewish community and promised to call out any other gatherings "equally."

Of roughly 374 summonses involving social distancing issues since March 16, about 52 percent involved Black New Yorkers, 30 percent involved Hispanics and 14 percent involved white residents, according to the NYPD.

Newsweek reached out to the NYPD for further information. This story will be updated with any response.

New York remains the national epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic with over 353,000 confirmed cases and 22,843 related deaths as of May 20.