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NYC candidate avoids jail for sparking riot over virus rules

May 9, 2021 Associated Press
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A New York City political candidate who led protests against coronavirus restrictions in Brooklyn last fall will avoid jail time after pleading guilty Friday to a charge of inciting a riot.

Harold “Heshy” Tischler was sentenced to 10 days community service for egging on a crowd of men that chased and trapped a journalist during the Oct. 7 protest in the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Borough Park.

Video showed the men surrounding, jostling and taunting Jacob Kornbluh, who had been reporting on resistance to social distancing in the neighborhood.

Tischler, who was not wearing a mask, can be seen screaming in Kornbluh’s face. Kornbluh, who is also an Orthodox Jew, said he was struck and kicked during the incident. Kornbluh was reporting for Jewish Insider at the time and now writes for the Jewish newspaper The Forward.

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Tischler, an activist and City Council candidate, posted a video on Twitter after his court appearance praising his lawyers who “saved me” and showing himself behind the counter with supporters at a local pizza parlor.

Kornbluh tweeted that he welcomed Tischler’s acknowledgment in court “that he incited a riot against me and has been held accountable for his actions. I am looking forward to continuing my work in journalism undeterred.”

Large protests erupted in Borough Park in October after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new restrictions on schools, businesses and houses of worship in areas where coronavirus infection rates have increased.

After his arrest, Tischler called it a “political stunt” and said he believed his interactions with Kornbluh were protected by the First Amendment.

Tischler also showed his opposition to COVID-19 restrictions by cutting the chains off playgrounds after they were ordered closed by the state last year and disrupting a news conference by the head of the city’s hospital system.

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