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Jackson Heights Couple Arrested for Attacking Hasidic Men in Dispute Over Social Distancing

Police officers distributed masks to the South Williamsburg community last week (NYPD 90th Precinct Twitter)

May 12, 2020 By Allie Griffin

A Jackson Heights couple was arrested and charged with a hate crime for attacking a group of Hasidic men in Williamsburg Sunday following a dispute over social distancing.

Police arrested Paulo Pinho, 35, and Clelia Pinho, 46, for aggravated harassment as a hate crime on Sunday after the couple assaulted three Hasidic men who they believed were not following social distancing guidelines.

The Pinhos were enraged that the Hasidic men were allegedly not social distancing and confronted them near Bedford Avenue and Ross Street at around 8:37 p.m., police said.

The couple was driving through the neighborhood when they spotted the group and got out of their car to confront them, according to reports, setting off an argument.

The couple then attacked the three men. They allegedly punched them in the face and ripped their face masks off, while making anti-Semitic remarks related to the COVID-19 outbreak, a NYPD spokesperson said.

“You Jews are getting us all sick,” the couple allegedly yelled at the victims, according to multiple news reports.

The three victims, a 29-year-old man, a 33-year-old man and a 34-year-old man, each refused medical attention at the scene.

Williamsburg and Borough Park — which each have large Hasidic communities — have had higher numbers of COVID-19 cases than many neighborhoods in New York City. Hasidic leaders have been criticized for holding large public funerals despite the pandemic.

On Monday Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned the incident during his daily press briefing.

“This is obviously absolutely unacceptable in every way,” he said. “It’s something that expresses hate, but also create danger, and that’s unacceptable and we’re not going to allow it here in this city. ”

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