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Jewish activist arrested over New York virus protest attack

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Oct 13, 2020 - 03:34 AM

NEW YORK — A right-wing activist has been arrested in connection with an attack on a journalist during protests among New York’s Orthodox Jewish community against a localised coronavirus lockdown, police said.

Harold “Heshy” Tischler, a city council candidate and avid supporter of President Donald Trump, was taken into custody on Sunday night, the New York Police Department said in a statement.

“He will be charged with inciting to riot and unlawful imprisonment,” the force tweeted.

Borough Park in Brooklyn, home to large Orthodox Jewish communities, witnessed angry protests last week against new coronavirus measures that placed restrictions on places of worship and closed non-essential businesses.

Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo said the measures were necessary to stem a surge of coronavirus infections, which coincided with Orthodox Jews gathering in large numbers to celebrate important holy days.

Members of Orthodox communities say they are being unfairly discriminated against, prevented from practising their religion and targeted over their support for Trump.

Tischler, who is Orthodox Jewish, is accused of encouraging a group of angry demonstrators to assault a reporter, who is also Orthodox Jewish, covering one of the demonstrations.

Jacob Kornbluh of Jewish Insider said he was hit in the head and kicked during Wednesday’s attack. He said protesters also called him a “Nazi” and a “snitch.”

Tischler is a radio host and a leader of protests against lockdowns. He had said on Friday that he expected to be arrested. He added in a video posted on Twitter that he would plead not guilty.

Officials are set to review the partial lockdowns, which also include the closure of more than 100 New York schools, after two weeks.

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