In protest of a new lockdown imposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a group of Orthodox Jews in New York City built a bonfire of facemasks Tuesday night.
In response to what the government said were localized spikes in coronavirus cases tied to the Jewish community in Borough Park's belief they had achieved herd immunity, the governor had ordered a new neighborhood-wide lockdown to commence Friday. That coincides with the Jewish celebration of the Sukkot holiday.
The new lockdown order includes nine New York City zip codes, and mandates all schools and "nonessential businesses" close, forbids mass gatherings, and restricts worship to no more than 10 people.
Chanting "Jewish Lives Matter," several protesters of the new restrictions shut down street traffic. As various participants tore up their face masks and promised to "fight back" through "civil disobedience," at least one local lawmaker voiced opposition to the order.
"We are not going to be deprived of the right that we have in America, like everybody else in America, the right to observe our religion," said Councilman Kalman Yeger.
Yeger and a handful of other local lawmakers wrote a letter to city and state officials decrying the lockdowns as "disgraceful" in light of the Jewish holidays being targeted.
Jewish citizens were not the only ones angry. Several Catholics in Marine Park, a different Brooklyn neighborhood, also protested the shutdown of their school and businesses.