New York Mayor Bill de Blasio had harsh words for parents and neighborhood groups “taking the law into their own hands” by cutting locks on city playgrounds, but has continued to defend the protesters who crowd city streets.
The mayor scolded New Yorkers for busting open padlocked playgrounds, during a press conference on Tuesday at which he reminded reporters that the sites are set to remain closed until “Phase 2” of post-coronavirus reopening.
“We’re not going to allow people to take the law into their own hands.”@BilldeBlasio says playgrounds will stay closed until Stage 2 of reopening. Despite his participation in mass protests, @NYCMayor thinks playgrounds are the threat to public health. pic.twitter.com/N8mglb6rTy
We’re not going to allow people to take the law into their own hands. It just doesn’t work.
Insisting the continued closure of children’s play-spaces is “for a reason,” de Blasio insisted he’d been “very sympathetic” and tried to “make it work,” but blamed parents for not following the rules. He also threatened to postpone Phase 2 or even return to full lockdown if city residents refused to cooperate, hinting that any suggestion the virus was spreading would push any hoped-for playground reopening into the distant future.
De Blasio’s recriminations were playground-specific for a reason, however. The mayor was photographed marching with protesters in East Harlem on Sunday, and has repeatedly defended the George Floyd protesters’ flouting of the Covid-19 social distancing measures he insists on applying elsewhere with an iron fist, proclaiming that “an extraordinary crisis seated in 400 years of American racism” trumps “the understandably aggrieved store owner or the devout religious person.”
A Hasidic Jewish group was filmed cutting the lock on Williamsburg’s Middleton Playground on Monday, presumably reasoning that with the massive protests that have thronged the streets over the past three weeks, the logic that children must be barred from climbing on play equipment for the sake of “social distancing” has been utterly shredded.
Jews in NYC just cut the lock @NYCMayor put on their park 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/77431im2Ge
Police have repeatedly targeted playgrounds for enforcement even as protests drew thousands of people into tight quarters and children remain largely unaffected by the virus. Middleton Playground was even briefly welded shut – though the city apparently removed the weld after local outcry. It was initially shuttered on May 31, one of 10 playgrounds closed for alleged social distancing violations, according to de Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein, and its lock has reportedly been cut 25 times.
After pressure from all the politicians including Assemblyman Joe Lentol, NYC Park Dept is now removing the weld and putting back the chain and locks on the Middleton Playground (Lynch Park). pic.twitter.com/ej9oOSdFHM
Adding insult to injury, the welding was done the day after the massive “Black Trans Lives Matter” protest at the Brooklyn Museum, which saw thousands of demonstrators gather in a tight crush – seemingly perfect conditions for transmitting the coronavirus. However, a spokesman for de Blasio’s office recently confirmed the city’s contact-tracers will not be asking those who test positive for Covid-19 if they’ve been to a protest recently.
De Blasio’s 25-year-old daughter Chiara was arrested at a protest several weeks ago for blocking the street with a group of demonstrators. At the time, de Blasio said he was “proud” of his child, though he has also defended the New York Police Department’s heavy-handed response to the protests.
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