Governor of New York proposes face-mask ban to combat anti-Semitism

Kathy Hochul says the face covers are being used by criminals on subway to conceal identities while committing anti-Semitic acts

New York Governor Kathy Hochul © Getty Images / Howard Schnapp;  Newsday RM

New York’s Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul has proposed a legislative ban on face masks on the NYC subway system to combat acts of anti-Semitism, claiming criminals are concealing their identities using the face coverings.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, New York had a law banning face masks in public. However, that rule was suspended in 2020 in light of the pandemic and the city’s authorities made face coverings mandatory for all subway riders until September 2022.

Speaking to reporters during a news conference in Albany on Thursday, Hochul stated that she was in talks with lawmakers over details of a bill once again banning masks, noting that the policy has to be clearly defined to include for the use of face masks for health, cultural or religious purposes. 

Hochul said, adding that her team is

The Mayor of , Eric Adams, had also mentioned reviving some version of a mask ban and returning to the way things were before the pandemic, insisting that people should not be able to wear masks at protests.

Hochul explained that she was moved to propose the ban after receiving a report earlier this week about a group of people donning face masks that “took over a subway car, scaring riders and chanting things about Hitler and wiping out Jews.”

It’s unclear if the Governor was referring to a specific incident or several, but they appear to be connected to Monday’s pro-Palestinian demonstrations that took place around the city. Near Union Square Park, a number of people who had left the rally were seen on video flooding into a subway station waving flags and banging on drums.

Read more White House denounces anti-Israel protest

In one clip, a man not wearing a face mask could be seen chanting “raise your hands if you’re a Zionist” to other passengers on the train, telling them to get out of the subway car. Another video shows a man in Union Square, also without a mask, shouting “I wish Hitler was still here. He would’ve wiped all you out!”

Critics of Hochul’s proposed mask ban have slammed it as an attempt to crack down on protests in which people want to conceal their identities to avoid legal or professional repercussions. Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, suggested that the governor’s legislation would be used to selectively squash political protests and used to “arrest, doxx, surveil and silence people of color and protestors the police disagree with.”


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