NYC Briefly Welds Playground Gates Shut As Orthodox Lawmakers Call For City To Open Park

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A Parks Department worker welds a playground gate shut in a heavily Orthodox neighborhood of Brooklyn, June 15, 2020. (Screenshot from Twitter)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Leo Goldman was walking past the park Monday morning when he saw workers closing the two entrances to a playground in Williamsburg, a heavily Orthodox neighborhood of Brooklyn. Not just closing, welding.

In a WhatsApp message, Goldman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he tried to open the gate himself.

“It was welded shut. 100%,” he wrote.

But by the afternoon, Goldman said, city workers had removed the welded portion of the gate and chained the playground shut.

The roller coaster ride at Middleton Park was the latest episode in a growing conflict between New York City officials and Orthodox Jews over what to do with their children, restless after three months of lockdown, as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The city has officially closed all playgrounds to children and their families — and sometimes is also barring entrance to surrounding green space — in an effort to slow the spread of disease.

But Orthodox elected officials say the rules are being enforced differently in various parts of the city. In a tweet last week Kalman Yeger, an Orthodox city councilman from Brooklyn, pointed to playgrounds in other parts of Brooklyn that remained open as proof of unequal enforcement.

City officials said Monday that the locks at Middleton had been broken multiple times. The welding — done from the inside, according to videos posted online — was a temporary measure, a Parks Department spokesperson said, because no staff was available to reinstall the chain earlier in the day.

Not long after the welding was removed and the park chained shut, a video was posted to Twitter showing two Orthodox men cutting the chains on a park gate. It was unclear where the video was taken. One man fell backwards as he pulled the chains off the gate. “Come on in, guys,” another said to the waiting crowd as the gates swung open.

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said city officials could begin allowing children to use playgrounds, but New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was not yet prepared to do so.

On Sunday, Orthodox lawmakers held a rally calling for the city to open playgrounds. That rally followed multiple days of rallies calling on city and state officials to permit camps to operate.

Late last week, Orthodox children blocked the streets of Brooklyn while shouting “We want camp!” The young protesters carried signs that borrowed from the language of recent protests for racial justice with the slogan “No camps, no justice.”

The lawmakers have pointed to the large protests against police brutality as proof that some breaches of social distancing are deemed acceptable, while others are censured.

Their campaign continued on Friday, the same day that Cuomo announced that overnight camps would not be allowed to open in New York state this summer.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. I love it. They are listening to the Mayor and are practicing civil disobedience. Democracy at work. It’s about time we stop being gullible lemechels.

    • Only Frum Jews have to social distance in DeBozos dictatorship. This is what you get when you vote for democrats.

    • Except we’re not the black community that is the darling of the left and which strikes fear in everyone else. DeBlasio will have no issues arresting frum protesters.

  2. It’s about time we used some judgment other than thirst for government money to choose our elected officials. So far, we listened to our askanim and voted some of the world’s greatest resho’im into office. Nadler, Schumer, Cuomo, De Blasio. We need to take back our votes, and deliver them to the candidates that hold our values dear. Not these immoral fakers.

    • “Use some judgement other than thirst for money” Nice slogan, I love it.
      1) Give up Section 8
      2) Give up Welfare
      3) Give up Medicaid
      4) Give Up Food Stamps
      5) GIve up all other godies.
      6) Go to work and earn an honest Money and vote .

      • Are you engaging in slander ? Are you arguing that many earn dishonest money ?

        You are a liar and full of it .
        You do realize that nowadays it’s very hard to “kasher” money and play shtick . Everything is digital now . The govt can see it all. Most people are honest ( maybe they are forced to but they are honest )

        We are very good at figuring out the legal
        Loopholes and making the numbers work . Nothing wrong with being honest and knowing my math. Now do you want to know if we follow the spirit of the law ? Maybe not .

    • That’s all nice and good, but there is no one to vote for. The Republican party in NYC is dead. The sick Rinos they throw out there are just empty paper bags.

  3. Disagreement with elected officials is fine. Deliberately damaging city property (cutting the chains) is an aveirah. This is what we want to encourage? Dina d’malchus dina!

    • No. Davening with a legal safe minyan is a thousand times worse than breaking some silly lock. The aiva they’re causing is terrible. We must not let our guard down. We must maaser on them at every turn. Keep the Yeshivos, Shuls, & camps all closed and locked. The goyim will hate us if we serve our G-d. Let’s try as much as we can to be like the goyim. Maybe then they’ll start to like us.

  4. ? How about this for a plan…..
    These NYC Orthodox-Jewish neighborhoods should go up “the chain of command.”
    File a discrimination claim against the City with the NY STATE Dept of Human Rights (NYSDHR).
    NYSDHR will assign an investigator. NYSDHR lawyer will present case before an Administrative Law Judge at the State level.
    If the State doesn’t address grievances expediciously, then the Federal government can step-in to enforce civil rights anti-discrimination laws.

    FOR [an extreme] EXAMPLE:
    “In 1957 the state of Arkansas refused to honor a federal court order to integrate their public school system stemming from the Brown decision. [President] Eisenhower demanded that Arkansas governor Orval Faubus obey the court order. When Faubus balked, the president placed the Arkansas National Guard under federal control and sent in the 101st Airborne Division. They escorted and protected nine black students’ entry to Little Rock Central High School, an all-white public school, marking the first time since the Reconstruction Era the federal government had used federal troops in the South to enforce the U. S. Constitution. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote to Eisenhower to thank him for his actions, writing “The overwhelming majority of southerners, Negro and white, stand firmly behind your resolute action to restore law and order in Little Rock”.”
    – from Wikipedia

  5. Why is Floyd Bennet Field in Brooklyn still closed to the public??? My G-d, the National Park is1000 acres! This baloney about a couple of MTA busses is a pile of crock. Why are there armed police at the entrance, off of Flatbush Avenue?! Is there something we should be made aware of?

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