Ultra-Orthodox
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man wears a protective face mask (Photo: AP/AAP)

A couple in the neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City, was arrested early Monday after allegedly trying to rip off the masks of three ultra-Orthodox Jews, in addition to yelling antisemitic slurs, according to a report by ABC News

Paulo and Clelia Pinho, 35 and 46, from the borough of Queens, New York City, were both charged with hate crimes for the attack, which took place at 8:30 p.m, at the corner of a Bedford Avenue and Ross Street in Williamsburg, a section of Brooklyn with a large Jewish population. 

Paulo Pinho allegedly also called the police to a report a large crowd gathering. The New York Police Department (NYPD) said that the couple allegedly exited their vehicle to accost the ultra-Orthodox men, leading to a physical struggle until they were detained by the Shomrim, a volunteer watch group. The couple was later arrested by NYPD officers.  

“You’re the reason why we’re getting sick,” one of the suspects allegedly said, according to the NYPD. The couple added that  “the mayor says you Jews are the reason we’re getting sick.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned the attack and said the NYPD will ensure that there are consequences for such actions. 

Mayor de Blasio drew fierce criticism in late April after he singled out “the Jewish community” in a trio of tweets when announcing that he had instructed his police department to fine or even arrest social distancing violators. De Blasio addressed the controversy during a press conference the following day. He said that he has a “long and deep connection” to the Orthodox community.

“We don’t accept bias in New York City. Any act of hate crime, we pursue it,” de Blasio said. 

He added that “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 or discrimination are acceptable in New York City.”

The incident came following a string of antisemitic attacks and cases of harassment in connection to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

In late April, Afrim Haxhaj, 30, of Queens, told a Jewish man at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Fort Lee to leave while saying Jews are responsible for the coronavirus. He also told the Jewish man not to come back.

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