“De Blasio struggles to defend social distancing, coronavirus rules amid protests”
June 2, 2020 | 4:28pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio struggled to explain Tuesday why large religious gatherings remain banned and businesses deemed nonessential are still closed under coronavirus-related orders as thousands pack city streets to protest the death of George Floyd.
“When you see a nation — an entire nation — grappling with an extraordinary crisis that’s deep-seated in 400 years of American racism,” a peevish de Blasio told a reporter during an hour-long press conference. “Sorry, that is not the same question as the understandably aggrieved store owner or the devout religious person who wants to go back to religious services.”
“It’s about the deep, deep American crisis,” Hizzoner added. “I have eyes to see. We’re not going to treat it like it’s any other day, we’re not going to treat it like ‘why are people outside the bar.’
It was one in a slew of contentious exchanges between a visibly exhausted de Blasio and the City Hall press corps, following the Big Apple’s fifth night unrest in the aftermath of Floyd’s death.
Hizzoner also attempted to explain the differing treatment by pointing to scientific research that shows there is less risk to contracting the disease from activities outside than inside.
“It’s only been a few days,” of protests, De Blasio said. “It’s also been people outdoors, which, thank god, means less spread than when people are indoors.”
Businesses, he added, will be able to begin to get back to work when New York City begins “Phase 1” of its pandemic reopening plan, which is still scheduled for Monday.
Large religious services are approved to begin again under “Phase 2.”
Floyd, who lived in Minneapolis, died on May 25 as he was arrested and violently detained by local cops over allegations he used a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes.
One of the police officers, Derek Chauvin, was captured on tape kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes as the African-American said he couldn’t breathe.
Chauvin was charged later charged in connection with his murder after protests — some of which turned violent — broke out across the country, including in New York City.
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