U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Jewish Insider reporter assaulted by crowd during Brooklyn anti-lockdown protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
October 7, 2020
New York, New York


Was the journalist targeted?
REUTERS/Yuki Iwamura

Protests erupted over new COVID-19 restrictions in areas with high infection rates, including this one in Brooklyn’s Borough Park on Oct. 7, 2020, where a reporter with Jewish Insider was assaulted by a crowd.

— REUTERS/Yuki Iwamura
May 7, 2021 - Update

Organizer of anti-lockdown protest charged with inciting a riot after journalist’s assault

The man who organized a protest against quarantine restrictions in Brooklyn where journalist Jacob Kornbluh was assaulted was sentenced to community service on May 7, 2021, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office confirmed in an email to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

Kornbluh was reporting on the October 2020 protest for the news outlet Jewish Insider when a group of men surrounded him and pinned him against the wall, calling him a snitch, a Nazi and Hitler. Kornbluh had previously reported on resistance to social distancing in the neighborhood of Borough Park. The men appeared to be members of the neighborhood’s large Orthodox Jewish community, to which Kornbluh also belongs.

Heshy Tischler, one of the protest’s organizers, was shown in video of the altercation screaming in Kornbluh’s face, NBC reported. He was later arrested for inciting a riot, and a judge granted an order of protection against him for Kornbluh.

Tischler pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 days of community service. An additional charge for unlawful imprisonment was dropped.

“I welcome the fact that Mr. Tischler acknowledged in the court of law that he incited a riot against me and has been held accountable for his actions,” Kornbluh said in a social media post. “I am looking forward to continuing my work in journalism undeterred.”

October 7, 2020

Jacob Kornbluh, national politics reporter for the national news outlet Jewish Insider, was assaulted by a crowd during anti-lockdown protests in the Brooklyn borough of New York on Oct. 7, 2020, according to tweets from Kornbluh and news reports.

Videos of the assault, which were posted on Twitter, show a group of men in clothing typically worn by members of the Orthodox Jewish community surrounding Kornbluh and pinning him against a wall while screaming “moyser,” or “snitch” in Yiddish.

Kornbluh wrote on Twitter and confirmed in a conversation with the Committee to Protect Journalists that he was “hit in the head and kicked by an angry crowd of hundreds of community members” that were calling him “Nazi” and “Hitler.” New York Police Department officers and several community members helped Kornbluh leave the crowd, according to Kornbluh’s tweets.

The New York Police Department arrested one of the anti-lockdown protest organizers, Heshy Tischler, on Oct. 11, and charged him with inciting a riot and unlawful imprisonment in connection with an assault of a journalist, according to New York state’s online court record system and a tweet from the NYPD.

Before his arrest, Tischler posted on Twitter that he would be pleading not guilty.

The protests were against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new COVID-19 restrictions on neighborhoods with high infection rates, including in Borough Park, where the incident occurred and where both Kornbluh and Tischler live, according to Haaretz.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].