Rise in antisemitic incidents sparks call for anti-mask law revival in NYC

The anti-mask law, originally enacted to combat the Ku Klux Klan and dating back to the 1800s, was repealed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Edric Robinson

Jun 13, 2024, 6:08 PM

Updated 32 days ago

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A recent surge in antisemitic incidents in New York City has prompted calls to reinstate an old law that bans the wearing of masks in public. Some leaders argue that masks are being used by criminals to avoid being identified.
Gov. Kathy Hochul addressed these concerns on Thursday, following the circulation of a disturbing video on social media. In the video, a group on a subway demands that "Zionists" identify themselves and leave. This incident is just one of several recent acts that officials are labeling as antisemitic. On Wednesday, Mayor Eric Adams highlighted another alarming incident: the home of Anne Pasternak, the director of the Brooklyn Museum, was vandalized with anti-Zionist graffiti.
According to the NYPD, antisemitic hate crimes have increased by 150%. This year alone, there have been 55 reported antisemitic crimes compared to 22 in all of 2023.
The anti-mask law, originally enacted to combat the Ku Klux Klan and dating back to the 1800s, was repealed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Scott Richman of the Anti-Defamation League emphasized the need to address the masking issue, stating, "We believe there’s a way to strike a balance between free speech, the importance of free expression, and keeping people safe from harm. At ADL, we are looking at that and trying to determine what is the right framework."
Hochul added, "The current law right now prohibits someone from wearing a mask while loitering. I don’t know that that’s required today. We’re looking to stop criminal activity, stop threatening activity, so there’s a whole different way to contemplate what had been in the law before."
The governor stated she will work closely with City Hall and legislators on finding a possible solution. However, opponents of the law fear it could be misused against minorities.


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