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At Press Conference, Advocates Demand That NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett Enforce the Law

June 19, 2018 by Leave a Comment

The News

As part of an ongoing campaign to shut down a ritual animal sacrifice that violates multiple health codes, dozens of activists with The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos held a press conference at the headquarters of the NYC Department of Health (DOH) on June 6th to demand that Commissioner Mary Bassett enforce the law. NY1 News covered the story.

The press conference, which was held during the lunchtime rush, attracted the attention of hundreds of city employees. While many expressed their support with a “thumbs up,” others averted their eyes.  According to supporters at the DOH, city employees refer to the protesters as “the chicken people.”

During Kaporos in NYC, an estimated 60,000 chickens are slaughtered, and their blood and body parts contaminate the streets, jeopardizing the public health.

In October 2017, animal rights and public health advocates launched a campaign targeting the Commissioner Bassett after she defended the use of live chickens based on the absence of “disease signals” without acknowledging the health code violations or the warnings outlined in a toxicology report that was submitted into evidence as part of an ongoing lawsuit against the Dept. of Health.  Activists say that, to date, Commissioner Bassett has neither refuted the findings of the toxicology report nor challenged the activists’ assertion that multiple health codes are violated.

The lawsuit filed by attorney Nora Marino on behalf of residents in the neighborhoods most affected by the animal slaughter is pending in the Court of Appeals, which is NY State’s highest court.

The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos has been attempting to engage with Commissioner Bassett for the past several years.  Her refusal to meet with this organization or address the Kaporos controversy triggered grass roots animal rights activists to begin disrupting Commissioner Bassett at her public speaking engagements. Since October, 2017, they have disrupted four of her presentations. In three cases, she left the venue.

Sources inside the administration say that Commissioner Bassett is refusing to enforce the health laws because the ultra-orthodox Jews who violate them represent a powerful voting bloc that helped to elect her boss, NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio. In fact, Commissioner Bassett publicly addressed her need to prioritize politics ahead over public health in an interview with the Boston University School of Public Health.

Commissioner Bassett admits that she must sometimes prioritize politics ahead of public health.

During the ritual, called Kaporos, ultra-Orthodox Jews swing live chickens around their heads in a symbolic transfer of their sins to the animals prior to the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. After the ritual, the chickens are killed in pop-up slaughterhouses erected without permits on public streets.

While most of the dead and dying chickens are stuffed into garbage bags and hauled away by the NYC Dept. of Sanitation, many end up in the streets, on the sidewalks and in the sewers.

NYC Health Commissioner ignores the multiple health code violations that take place during Kaporos.

Comments via Facebook Comments

  1. Doris Muller says:

    Hmm, I have concluded that Ms Bassett chooses to stand-her-ground illegally. She must be related to President Trump: They both are delusional that they can be an autocracy in their jobs, according to their biases. It’s an utter disgrace that citizens of NY have to fight so hard and so long to obtain lawful justice against an employee whose job it is to demand justice in protecting the public. Perhaps Ms Bassett needs some reading and comprehension classes.

    Ms Bassett needs to come out of the dark ages and stop supporting animal cruelty voodoo rituals that attempt to disguise themselves as acceptable religious forms. Jim Jones did the very same thing. He was an arrogant, delusional psychopath who used humans to support his arrogant, deadly ideologies. Ms Bassett is worse, because she is a tax-supported EMPLOYEE, and she means to allow deadly barbarism on the streets of NY, for self-gain. She drank the kool-aid and she is complicit in the voodoo rituals that claim thousands of victims. SHE IS NOT FIT FOR HER JOB!

  2. Joan Armer says:

    Ms. Bruno’s comments are right on, and definitely appropriate for this time. How can anyone live with him/herself when inflicting this torture on innocent animals, all in the name of religion? And thank you also to Raina for her comments, exactly to the point! It is always amazing to hear what others can do without any sense of compassion, feeling or guilt.

  3. Joanne Bruno says:

    I thought we are personally responsible for our sins and transgressions. The notion of transferring our sins onto an innocent being – imposing suffering and death on the chicken in the process seems an antiquated and counterproductive idea. Cruelty to animals (all or any animals) is reprehensible and must be condemned by all religions and all people. There are certainly more useful ways to banish our sinful actions than torturing truly innocent creatures. We alone are responsible for our actions – instead of trying to transfer our sins, why not employ activities that may TRANSFORM our sins by doing something good, positive or helpful to others – something that requires self sacrifice is far more admirable and kind way to express regret for our miss deads.

  4. Raina says:

    This is so shocking, that she allows this to continue. Go after Deblazio. Threatening their jobs is the only way to get the point across. Let them know they will not be re-elected if this continues.

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