Kathy Hochul considers banning masks amid increasing Gaza protests in NYC

By Katie Daviscourt – The Postmillennial

Kathy Hochul considers banning masks amid increasing Gaza protests in NYC

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) considered on Thursday the idea of implementing a partial mask ban in New York City following a rise in antisemitic incidents by masked protesters in response to the conflict in the Middle East.

Gov. Hochul said that while discussions have largely focused on NYC subways, lawmakers are not ruling out prohibiting masks from being worn during protest activity, which has raised concerns about freedom of speech violations in the past. This comes after Jewish leaders called on Hochul to reinstate an anti-masking law that was repealed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the New York Post reports.

Gov. Hochul cited multiple recent vile anti-Jewish incidents as grounds for weighing the prohibition. This included the shocking incident that occurred on a NYC subway when masked protesters demanded that “Zionists” raise their hands on a crowded train.

Hochul stated that any policy related to masks would include reasonable exemptions for health concerns, cultural events, religious reasons, and Halloween. She distinguished between the act of wearing an N95 mask for health reasons and the act of adopting a full-face covering to conceal one’s identity, which is a tactic often used by far-left extremists including Antifa and Hamas supporters.

Despite concerns surrounding potential freedom of speech violations, Gov. Hochul asserted that it’s a whole “different ballgame” when it comes to protesters’ criminal and threatening behavior.

The governor did not specify a timeline or indicate that she would request lawmakers to return to Albany for a special session, which would be necessary to reinstate the law considering the legislative session has ended for the year. However, New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) appears to be on board, sources told the Post.

“This is important to the mayor. The administration is reaching out to the parties across the city and state – elected officials in the council, the legislature, and the governor’s office – to figure out a way to get this done,” a source close to the Mayor told the outlet.

Proponents of the mask ban argued that requiring demonstrators to reveal their identities would reduce criminal activity and hateful incidents during protests. They contended that the state’s anti-masking laws were successful in the past while combatting the menacing Ku Klux Klan (KKK).

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