The lawsuit claims that the governor, mayor, and attorney general violated the First Amendment and due-process rights of the plaintiffs by selectively enforcing pandemic-control measures. Even as mass protests were allowed to take place across the state, people of faith were targeted with threats of criminal prosecution and $1000 fines for violating the restrictions on group gatherings, the suit alleges.
As stringent restrictions on religious services remain in place until the coronavirus pandemic is brought under control, protests have taken place on a large scale across the state and the nation in response to the death of George Floyd. In New York City, groups much larger than ten people — the limit de Blasio set for non-essential gatherings — have not been broken up by law enforcement, the suit notes. Days later, a group of Hasidic Jewish children was kicked out of a park in Williamsburg by a police officer for not abiding by the ten-person limit.
An attorney for the plaintiffs, Christopher Ferrara, argued in a statement that both New York’s emergency stay-at-home order and its reopening plan “clearly discriminate against houses of worship.”