Facing backlash from community leaders, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that he “spoke out of real distress” when he condemned Hasidic residents in Brooklyn for attending a large funeral gathering. “I spoke last night out of passion, I could not believe my eyes,” de Blasio said in a statement. “It was deeply, deeply distressing. Again, this is a community I love, this is a community I have spent a lot of time working with closely, and if you saw anger and frustration, you’re right.” De Blasio, who went to the gathering to help disperse the crowd, tweeted late Tuesday that “something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonite: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic.” He added in another tweet, “My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed.” He also threatened future violators with arrest.
Leaders from the Anti-Defamation League and the City Council condemned the mayor’s tweets as a generalization about New York City’s Jewish community. Chaim Deutsch, a City Council member, said the comments were “offensive, it’s stereotyping, and it’s inviting anti-Semitism.” “I regret if the way I said it in any way gave people a feeling of being treated the wrong way,” de Blasio said Wednesday. “That was not my intention. It was said with love, but it was tough love—it was anger and frustration.”