BY TODD MAISEL AND ROBERT POZARYCKI
About 20 individuals angry over restrictions designed to stop large gatherings and protect New Yorkers amid a deadly global pandemic protested outside City Hall on Friday afternoon seeking a full “reopening” of the city immediately.
The very small gathering marched into City Hall Park in a light rain, holding signs and screaming towards the mayor’s office demanding the lockdown end. Some counter-protesters from Revcom, an anti-fascist group, held up signs showing their disdain for the anti-lockdown protesters.
Observers said there were more journalists and police officers on the scene than actual demonstrators. But when City Hall Park became too crowded for the NYPD’s liking, cops ordered both groups to leave.
The protests came as Governor Andrew Cuomo said there were 18,600 deaths associated with COVID-19. There have been other anti-lockdown protests across the country, including one Friday outside the state capitol in Albany, where 100 demonstrators marched.
No summonses were issued at the City Hall gathering, the NYPD said, because both groups left when requested.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has said groups would receive summonses if they violate the social distancing rules and have gatherings that violate the rules during the COVID-19 crisis.
“We’re not doing rallies at this point,” the mayor said at the Friday morning press conference. “They spread the disease and help to kill people. It’s unacceptable.”
One of the protesters, Aida Nesimi, a real estate broker from Queens, said the social distancing measures implemented during the pandemic is destroying her business and that of others while larger shops are allowed to stay open.
“All these big stores like Target and Shop Rite, they are allowed to stay open and do business with hundreds of people in their stores at once,” Nesimi said “But for a furniture store or realtor like myself, it is preposterous that I can’t sell properties at this time. It’s time for you to stand up for your rights and be American.”
Supermarkets and other stores selling food have been deemed essential businesses by both the city and state, and are permitted to remain open during the pandemic.