They set off car alarms, honked car horns and sounded air horns. If they can’t sleep, they reasoned, the mayor shouldn’t either.
Dozens of Orthodox Jews demonstrated outside Gracie Mansion, the official residence of New York City’s mayor, around midnight Monday night in a protest over the fireworks that have become a nightly nuisance in some city neighborhoods. Brooklyn residents — Jewish and non-Jewish alike — have complained for days that fireworks are set off until the early hours of the morning with little action by law enforcement.
The New York Times reported that the number of fireworks complaints received by the city — to both 311 and 911 lines — was 80 times higher than in the same period last year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday that he would establish a multi-agency task force to crack down on illegal fireworks sales — but insisted that silencing the noisemakers and acting against those who use them was not in the cards.
“I want [police] focused on the most fundamental issues,” de Balsio said. “I’m concerned first and foremost about addressing the shootings problem we’re having.”
A reporter for Hamodia asked the mayor “plain and simple … are police being instructed to stop this or to let it go?”
The mayor criticized the reporter, and emphasized, “The focus right now is on dealing with serious and violent crime.”
Monday night’s protest opened a new front in a deepening battle between the city’s Orthodox Jewish communities and de Blasio. The relationship, once cozy, has soured recently as some have alleged that the city enforced social distancing regulations unevenly and targeted Orthodox communities disproportionately.
“People have come out from communities in Brooklyn, from all different communities, with one unified message, and that is: de Blasio must go,” a kippah-clad man said over a loudspeaker to cheering protesters and honking cars.
Videos of the protest appeared on several websites. Includes reporting by JTA