Senator Ted Cruz called for the Justice Department to investigate New York City mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to have the New York Police Department shut down an Orthodox Jewish school that opened in violation of the city’s social-distancing orders.
The Texas Republican accused de Blasio of violating the right to freely exercise religion and called on the Justice Department to be prepared to step in on behalf of the Jewish community.
“The next time NYC’s mayor sends out a gleeful tweet about sending cops after Jews, the DOJ should investigate to make sure he’s not violating constitutionally guaranteed religious liberties,” Cruz wrote in a Tuesday morning tweet.
“Actually, they should have done it after the last one,” he added.
On Monday, the NYPD shut down a Hasidic Jewish school in Brooklyn that was holding classes, responding to reports from neighbors that more than 60 people were congregating in the building. No summonses were issued as school administrators complied immediately and sent the students home, the mayor said.
“Earlier today the NYPD shut down a Yeshiva conducting classes with as many as 70 children,” de Blasio announced in a tweet a day earlier. “I can’t stress how dangerous this is for our young people.”
De Blasio added that the city is issuing a cease and desist order against the school to “make sure we keep our communities and our kids safe.”
This week is not the first time Cruz has called out de Blasio for his actions relating to the city’s Jewish community during the pandemic.
Last month, Cruz urged the DOJ in a letter “to closely monitor New York City” for instances of “constitutional violations” related to religious discrimination against the local Jewish community.
The senator’s exhortation came after de Blasio personally participated in dispersing a crowd of thousands who gathered for the funeral of a Hasidic Orthodox rabbi.
“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed,” the mayor said at the time, although he later apologized if his remarks had caused offense but said he had “no regrets” for criticizing the gathering.