Gaza War

Push to ‘Unmask NY’


Voices are rising to demand that New York State reinstate its law banning wearing masks in public places after months of violent anti-Israel protesters wearing face coverings. The 175-year-old law, which had targeted the KKK, was cancelled in 2020 the state required people to wear masks in public spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“New York City will always defend your right to free speech and will continue to protect public health, but we are increasingly seeing masked protestors using anonymity to intimidate, threaten and break the law,” Mayor Eric Adams said on Thursday, endorsing the Unmask NY campaign. “This behavior is unacceptable, and we will not tolerate it.”

The mayor spoke outside of Columbia University’s campus, which was the site of a pro-Hamas encampment where protesters, many of them masked, intimidated and harassed Jewish students and other members of the Columbia community.

Also attended the press conference were New York State Assembly members from three of the city’s five boroughs; National Urban League president Marc Morial; Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of Anti-Defamation League; Mount Neboh Baptist Church pastor Johnnie Green; and representatives of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and UJA.

“Black communities know all too well that individuals who hide their identities with intent to terrorize, intimidate or harass are a threat to all of our safety and have no place in New York,” said Hazel Dukes, a former NAACP president and current president of its New York State conference.

“Reinstating New York’s masking laws will protect New Yorkers from some of the most terrifying periods in our history, when the Klan menaced black Americans, faces covered, without accountability,” Dukes added. “We can’t let history repeat itself.”