Thousands of protesters from around the Northeast braved the wind and cold on Sunday to march across the Brooklyn Bridge in solidarity with the Jewish community.
The protest came in response to several recent incidents of violence against ultra-Orthodox Jews in the New York metropolitan area, including a stabbing that left five wounded at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York.
“We say no to hate and no to fear,” said UJA-Federation CEO Eric Goldstein at the rally. “Today we don’t only walk over a bridge; we’re building bridges. We’re building bridges of community. Jews and Jews, Jews and non-Jews, all people of good will together.”
Marching in solidarity were Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and many other politicians.
Cuomo announced an increase in the state police force and an increase in funding for security at religious institutions and non-public schools. He also said he will propose a law to label hate crimes as domestic terrorism. “Racism and anti-Semitism is anti-American,” said the governor.
At the protest, Schumer proposed $360 million in federal funding to protect houses of worship and $100 million to help local police groups fight hate crimes.
Organized by the UJA-Federation of New York and other local Jewish organizations, the protest began in Foley Square. From there, participants marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to Cadman Plaza for a rally.
During the 1.5-mile walk, protesters chanted “2-4-6-8! No more violence, no more hate” and “I am proud to be a Jew.” Protesters held up signs saying “No Hate. No Fear,” “Jewish Lives Matter” and “Never Again,” referring to the Holocaust.
Protesters came from across the political spectrum and expressed their political views in buttons supporting various presidential candidates, as well as in signs criticizing President Donald Trump and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar. At the rally, when Jewish Community Relations Council of New York leader Michael Miller read out a list of politicians who participated in the march, the crowd erupted in boos at the mention of Ocasio-Cortez.
Protesters also expressed differing views on Zionism, the belief that there should be a Jewish nation. One protester carried a sign saying “Anti-Zionism = Anti-Semitism.” Men from Neturei Karta, a group of anti-Zionist Jews, were received with loud booing. All the while, Israeli flags flew high in the wind.
As they arrived in Cadman Plaza, marchers were greeted by members of the Orthodox community of Brooklyn, as well as with a concert from the all male Jewish a capella group The Maccabeats. To the tune of “Raise Your Glass” by Pink, they sang “We will never be, never be anything but proud to tell our story.”
Hours later, protesters were still marching across the Brooklyn Bridge, signs held high and voices loud.