Neighbors Lash Out as New Yorkers Protest at Home of Health Commissioner Mary Bassett Over Mass Animal Sacrifice
After months of being stonewalled by NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett, New Yorkers advocating for a ban on a ritual animal sacrifice that violates seven public health codes have taken their plea to her front doorstep. While many of Commissioner Bassett’s neighbors have expressed their support for the protests, others are lashing out:
“We’re surprised by the rage expressed of some of Commissioner Bassett’s neighbors because we are protesting for just 1.5 hours every few weeks without any sound amplification,” said Linda Mann, an activist who participated in the protest.
During the animal sacrifice, which is called Kaporos, ultra-Orthodox Jews swing live chickens around their heads while saying a prayer to transfer their sins to the chicken. After the ritual, the chickens’ throats are sliced in one of the approximately 30 pop-up slaughterhouses erected for the ritual on public streets.
“The chickens, who are just six weeks old, are held in crates for several days with no food or water,” said Rina Deych, a Brooklyn resident who lives in a neighborhood where chickens are killed and bled out into the streets. “In 2017, thousands of these babies slowly died from starvation, thirst and heat exhaustion before they were even used in the ritual, and their bodies were stuffed into garbage bags and dumped onto the sidewalk.”
In 2015, The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos and 19 NYC residents sued the Department of Health and the NYPD for failing to enforce the 15 public health, sanitation and anti-cruelty laws and regulations that are violated during Kaporos. The plaintiffs are asking the judges to mandate that the city agencies enforce the laws. The case is pending at the Court of Appeals, which is the highest court in the state of New York.
In response to the activists pleas, Commissioner Bassett issued a two sentence statement defending the practice. The statement makes no reference to health code violations or the toxicology report submitted to the court that states that Kaporos jeopardizes public health by exposing New Yorkers to e-coli, salmonella and many other toxins and pathogens.