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Absence of NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett Didn’t Stop Activists From Protesting Her Event

April 3, 2018 by Leave a Comment


The News

NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett didn’t show up to deliver the opening remarks at a Women’s Health Summit in Brooklyn, but that didn’t stop 20 activists from disrupting her stand-in after Bassett’s pre-recorded video greeting was played for attendees.

The activists disrupted the summit over Commissioner Bassett’s ongoing refusal to enforce the seven public health codes violated during an annual ritual animal sacrifice called Kaporos during which 60,000 chickens are swung in the air by their fragile wings and killed in illegal pop-up slaughterhouses on public streets. The blood, body parts and feces of thousands of dead and dying chickens contaminate the streets in several Brooklyn neighborhoods for up to a week each year.

Public health and animal rights activists join forces to protest NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett over her refusal to shut down an illegal animal sacrifice called Kaporos

“We are so desperate for Commissioner Bassett to shut down this illegal and barbaric massacre that we are willing to protest any event sponsored by NYC Department of Health, even if Bassett doesn’t show up for fear of protests,” said Nicole Fernandez, a Brooklyn-based health care provider who participated in the disruption at the Women’s Health Summit.

Two dozen women protest NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett at a Women’s Health Summit, demanding that she enforce public health codes around ritual animal sacrifice

In 2015, The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos and 19 NYC residents sued the NYC 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 case centers on whether or not courts can mandate that the police enforce the laws that are violated during Kaporos.  The case is pending at the Court of Appeals, which is the highest court in the state of New York.

Dr. Mary Bassett refuses to enforce the seven health codes that are violated when ultra-Orthodox Jews slaughter 60,000 chickens in pop-up slaughterhouses on NYC streets.

While many New Yorkers working on this effort are motivated by the public health risks, others are motivated by the animal cruelty. “I joined the fight because, in 2017, I watched helplessly as thousands of chickens in cramped crates died a slow and agonizing death from starvation and thirst,” said Jaylene Lopez, a Brooklyn native. “I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do everything in my power to stop this atrocity from happening again.”

The NY Daily News reports on a protest targeting NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett in the lobby of the Department of Health headquarters in Queens


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NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett Abandons Presentation During Animal Sacrifice Protest

March 29, 2018 by Leave a Comment


The News

As 25 activists stormed into the New York Academy of Medicine to disrupt a presentation she was making, NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett collected her coat and exited the building, leaving event organizers and attendees visibly stunned.  This was the third time in recent months that activists have shut down one of Mary Bassett’s presentations.

The activists are protesting Commissioner Bassett over her refusal to enforce the seven or more public health codes that are broken during a ritual animal sacrifice called Kaporos. During Kaporos, ultra-Orthodox Jews recite a prayer to transfer their sins to live chickens before Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement. While reciting the prayer, practitioners swing the chickens around their heads three times by their fragile wings and then bring them to a slaughterer who slices their throats in illegal pop-up slaughterhouses. Each year, practitioners sacrifice an estimated 60,000 chickens, the majority of whom are bled out into the streets before being thrown in the garbage.

Activists shut down NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett’s presentation at the NY Academy of Medicine

Some of the activists who participate in the disruptions are motivated by the public health risks because the  streets and sidewalks near their homes are contaminated with the blood, body parts and feces of thousands of dead and dying chickens.

Mary Bassett, the Commissioner of the NYC Dept. of Health, refuses to enforce the the health codes that are violated during a ritual animal sacrifice called Kaporos. (photo: Unparalleled Suffering Photography)

Other activists who are participating in this campaign are motivated by animal cruelty. Before being swung in the air and slaughtered, the chickens are held in crates for up to several days with no food, water or protection from weather extremes. In 2017, activists documented thousands of chickens who died in their crates from starvation, thirst and exposure before the ritual sacrifice took place.

The blood, body parts and feces of thousands of chickens contaminate the streets for several days, which, according to a toxicology report, jeopardizes the health of people who live in the neighborhoods where the ritual sacrifice takes place.

Activists speculate that Commissioner Bassett condones the practice, in spite of the health code violations and a toxicology report outlining the public health risks, because ultra-Orthodox Jews represent one of the most powerful voting blocs in NYC.

Kaporos practitioners swing live chickens in the air by their fragile wings and then slaughter them on public streets

In response to media inquiries, Dr. Bassett’s office puts out the following statement:  “We have not found Kaporos to be a significant public health threat — our surveillance has shown no increase in illness — and this ritual is an important practice for some Orthodox Jews.”

Activists protest Mary Bassett in front of her home over her refusal to enforce the seven health codes violated during the annual Kaporos massacre of 60,000 chickens in NYC.

In 2015, The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos and 19 NYC residents sued the NYC 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 case centers on whether or not courts can mandate that the police enforce the laws that are violated during Kaporos. According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, the police are not only ignoring the violations, but they are also “aiding and abetting” in the crimes by providing the ritual practitioners with flood lights, barricades, security and the orange cones in which the chickens are bled out. 

Activists have vowed to escalate the campaign targeting Commissioner Bassett and her staff if she doesn’t enforce her own agency’s regulations.


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