The inflammatory social media personality who allegedly incited the assault of a Jewish journalist in Brooklyn during Wednesday night demonstrations against new pandemic-related restrictions says he will be allowed to turn himself in to police on unspecified charges after this weekend.
Harold “Heshy” Tischler—caught on video swaggering through crowds of irate ultra-Orthodox Jewish youths with a Trump bumper sticker on his shirt, and apparently goading protesters into striking reporter Jacob Kornbluh earlier this week—announced to his Twitter followers Friday afternoon that he was “being arrested” Monday morning at the local police stationhouse, but insisted he would “be pleading not guilty.”
The “arrest” may just be another publicity stunt for Tischler, however, a serial failed candidate in local Democratic politics who reinvented himself in recent months as an incendiary opponent of public mandates intended to contain the pandemic. The NYPD said in a statement to The Daily Beast that a joint probe with the district attorney’s office into the Wednesday incident remains ongoing.
“We are working closely with our partners at Brooklyn D.A. and this matter is the subject of an active investigation,” said Detective Sophia Mason.
Tischler regularly broadcasts his views—along with his confrontations with city inspectors and his refusal to wear a mask—on social media and through his “Just Enough Heshy” program on Facebook and Youtube.
Amid the first wave of demonstrations on Tuesday, in which another local man was attacked by a mob, Tischler was recorded shouting to the crowd: “You are my soldiers! We are at war!” He was also photographed posing with members of the police force.
The eruptions in the neighborhood of Borough Park, the heart of New York City’s religious Jewish community and the core of a new COVID-19 cluster, have come in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision this week to shutter religious schools and limit synagogue attendance.The police response to the aforementioned violence and masses of unmasked people in the streets has remained muted, and there have been as yet no arrests or summonses issued in response.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, however, promised action in Kornbluh’s case would be forthcoming soon in a radio interview Friday morning.
“An arrest is expected in that case shortly,” he said, citing a recent conversation with NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.
Eugene O’Donnell, a former Brooklyn cop and prosecutor who now serves as a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, noted that the Borough Park community is one of several with a “convoluted” relationship with the police. He noted a 1978 incident in which hundreds of Hasidim, outraged over a recent murder, stormed the local NYPD stationhouse and injured 62 officers.
“In that community there has been a lot of exceptional decision-making and unusual decision-making,” said O’Donnell. “It’s even more pronounced in this era where everything is more fractious.”
The attorney and academic was careful to note that the neighborhood was “not a monolith,” but called on the mayor and Brooklyn D.A. to use the powers of their offices to take decisive action.
Kornbluh, who writes for Jewish Insider, declined to remark on Tischler’s tweet or the possibility of his arrest due to the ongoing investigation. He did, however, voice hope that his assault would result in consequences.
“I have faith in the process,” said Kornbluh. “Hopefully those who are responsible for inciting violence and those who perpetrate it will pay a price.”
If Tischler faces charges, it will not be his first brush with the law. A jury convicted him in 2013 for his role in a “massive immigration fraud” scheme in which he falsely represented to federal authorities that he intended to hire foreign nationals so as to secure them legal residency in the United States.