New York couple attacks Hasidic Jews and blames them for spread of coronavirus, charged with hate crime
The aggressors reportedly abused the group racially and accused them of not observing the social-distancing rules
New York’s Hasidic Jews have made the headlines recently by flouting social-distancing norms and holding packed funerals in the times of the Covid-19 pandemic despite the local police trying to stop them. And now, their act of gathering outside drew the ire of two civilians who allegedly attacked three Hasidic men on Sunday, May 10, and accused them of spreading the coronavirus in New York, the US’ worst-affected city. It was only on Monday, May 11, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an analysis to say that NYC’s actual death toll from the virus might be much worse than the official numbers.
Paul Pinho, 35, and his 46-year-old wife Clelia Pinho were reportedly driving through Brooklyn around 8:30 pm when they saw a group of Hasidic Jews assembling outside. The duo stopped their car and confronted the group aggressively and assaulted them. The Pinhos reportedly abused the group racially and accused them of not observing the social-distancing rules. They also reportedly ripped off the masks that the Jewish people were wearing.
The New York Daily News cited police sources that accused the couple of yelling at the group of three men and saying, “The mayor says you Jews are the reason we’re getting sick." New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, however, said during a coronavirus briefing on Monday, May 11, that it was "absolutely unacceptable" in every way.
The Daily News also cited one of the victims, Moshe Rosenbaum, 39, to say that Paul got out of his vehicle and recorded people on his mobile phone. He said while they were standing with masks on, the duo had none and started ripping off the masks of the women standing with small children. When Rosenbaum, a real-estate manager, and other men came to their rescue, Paul accused them of violating the law. When Rosenbaum hit back at Paul saying he was violating the law of keeping six feet away, the latter punched him in the face and chest.
“We held him down on the ground,” Rosenbaum said, adding: “And then she (Clelia) got out of the car and started kicking and punching us. She was shouting, ‘Let him go, let him go’.” He said Paul was trying to vent his frustration over Jews. Shomrim, a local Jewish neighborhood patrol group, detained the duo till the authorities reached the spot.
Both Paulo and Clelia were arrested and charged with aggravated harassment as a hate crime. Police sources said while Clelia has no prior record of getting arrested, Paul has been arrested four times in the past with the last one happening in 2019 when he punched an elderly man in a fight over parking space. Clelia, however, broke her arm after falling during the squabble, police said. Rosenbaum said Paul even tried to attack the police when they arrived. The Pintos reside in Jackson Heights, Queens, authorities said. The victims included three men, aged 29, 33 and 34, Pix11 reported.
New York Mayor condemns attack on Jews
“It’s something that expresses hate, but also creates danger, and that’s unacceptable and we’re not going to allow it here in this city,” de Blasio said in his condemning remarks in a morning press conference. “We are treating this incident as a hate crime, so there are serious consequences when someone commits one of these acts. Whether it is this horrible anti-Semitic act that we saw, or the horrible anti-Asian acts we saw in previous weeks, none of these acts of bias and discrimination are acceptable in New York City.”
He criticized the episode in a tweet as well. “This anti-Semitic attack is unacceptable in EVERY way. I commend the NYPD for ensuring the perpetrators were arrested quickly. We have ZERO tolerance for this kind of reckless hatred in New York City,” he wrote while attaching a New York Post report on the incident.
In April, de Blasio was accused of targeting the Orthodox Jewish community when its members held a large funeral. That time, he called the mourners’ action "absolutely unacceptable" on Twitter after photos surfaced showing dozens of Jewish members crowding at an intersection in Williamsburg, with many wearing face masks. De Blasio personally went to the spot to disperse the crowd. He sent a stern warning and was accused of targeting a specific ethnic group. De Blasio later apologized over his strong reaction to the gathering.