Demonstrations in Borough Park, Brooklyn this week over new COVID-19 regulations in the community were an overtly political act more than a genuine protest, Governor Andrew Cuomo charged on Friday.
During a conference call with reporters, the governor suggested that the outcry in the largely Orthodox Jewish community — which included the assault of a reporter — was a stunt among local Trump supporters connected, in some manner, to the campaign itself.
To build his case, Cuomo played an excerpt of a robocall that purportedly went out to homes in the community which claimed that community leaders had recently been in touch with representatives of the Trump campaign.
“They’re urging us to come out with signs saying ‘Cuomo killed thousands,'” said the unidentified speaker on the robocall, who further advised residents to “come out to 13th Avenue,” in Borough Park.
“The more signs we have, the bigger the national outcry will be,” the speaker said.
Cuomo also read off a tweet from local activist Heshy Tischler, whose name was also mentioned in the robocall, published on Oct. 7. In the tweet, Tischler asked, “Urgent: who can print ‘Cuomo hates Jews’ and ‘Cuomo killed thousands’ on flags?”
On his Twitter account Oct. 8, Tischler also posted a short video showing signs with messages similar to what was heard in the robocall.
— Heshy (@HeshyTischler) October 9, 2020
And Tischler wore a shirt at Oct. 7’s protest with a Trump bumper sticker on the front.
Cuomo called the alleged link between the demonstrations and Trumpism as “ugly, divisive, poisonous, disgusting, painful.” He suggested that Tischler and others involved in organizing the protests were participating in Trump’s “divide and conquer” strategy, fomenting division in the community.
“There is no question that the president of the United States is a divisive force,” Cuomo said. “His campaign was premised on division. His campaign was the oldest political strategy in the book, used by the Roman empire: divide and conquer. He exploits divisions. … I also believe his campaign is fomenting the ultra-Orthodox in Brooklyn.”
The governor said these actions also undermined efforts to get COVID-19 under control in a community overwhelmed by new cases — putting the lives of their neighbors in jeopardy.
“Here the Trump campaign wants to inflame division. Meanwhile, they’re putting lives at risk,” Cuomo charged. “What’s the Trump campaign saying? Play politics. It’s disgusting.”
amNewYork Metro reached out to Tischler for comment, and is awaiting a response.