NYC Boosts Security Ahead of ‘All Out for Palestine’ Protest

New Yorkers weighed staying home Friday amid surging tensions spurred by the war between Israel and Hamas, even as Mayor Eric Adams said the city had “no credible or specific threats.”

(Bloomberg) — New Yorkers weighed staying home Friday amid surging tensions spurred by the war between Israel and Hamas, even as Mayor Eric Adams said the city had “no credible or specific threats.”

Morgan Stanley told staff they could work from home Friday, when an “All Out For Palestine” rally is scheduled to be held in Times Square, not far from the bank’s headquarters. Google parent Alphabet Inc. said New York employees could decide whether to stay at home, while at least one Jewish school in Queens told parents it would close for the day. 

Authorities are bolstering police presence at Jewish and Muslim houses of worship, and also at schools, as Israel prepared for a ground assault on Gaza, and Hamas, which has been designated a terrorist group by the US and European Union, called for a “Day of Rage.” Protests have already erupted across the Middle East including in capital cities of Iran, Iraq and Jordan. 

Protests Erupt Across Mideast as Israel Readies Gaza Assault

“We have directed the NYPD to surge additional resources to schools, houses of worship to assure that they are safe,” Adams said Thursday. “Our deployment is also not only to our synagogues that have a high profile, but also many of the mosques that are high profile because we do not want anyone that comes with an extremist mindset to attack any religious institution.” 

For more on the Israel-Hamas war, click here.

Several pro-Palestine and pro-Israel rallies have already been held in New York, which has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel. More than 1,300 Israelis were killed by a Hamas attack over the weekend, while the death toll in Gaza from Israel’s retaliatory offensive has already exceeded 1,500. 

Israel’s National Security Council and Foreign Affairs Ministry warned Israelis abroad to be vigilant and stay away from demonstrations and protests.

Staying Home

In New York, Morgan Stanley said in a memo to staff that employees could work from home if they prefer and have management consent. A spokesperson for the bank declined to comment. 

Google left the decision up to its workers. 

“We encourage you to monitor the local news and use your judgment regarding your commute to determine if working from home tomorrow is a better option for you,” the company said in a message to New York employees. 

The New York Police Department ordered all officers to report in uniform starting Friday and be prepared for deployment, the New York Post reported, citing a memo. 

A top NYPD intelligence official said an increase in security around the city is about deterrence and reassurance for New Yorkers, rather than a reflection of any imminent threat. 

“Everybody should go about their daily lives,” Rebecca Weiner, Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism for the NYPD, told Fox 5 New York on Thursday. “We see tensions flaring up, we saw some protests over the weekend, we will continue to see protests today into the weekend. People have heated emotions, but we don’t see violence, and that is what we are going to ensure.”

On Thursday evening, hundreds of students gathered on opposite sides of Columbia University’s Butler Lawn, near where an Israeli student was assaulted earlier this week.  On one side, students — many with masks and face coverings — held signs and chanted “free free Palestine.” Speakers condemned emails sent by faculty in response to the Hamas attack and called for the university endowment to divest from all Israeli companies.

Across the way, another group stood mostly in silence, holding signs with photos of Israeli victims that read “Kidnapped” and “This is not resistance this is terrorism.”

On Friday, Republican New York City Council Member Inna Vernikov, who represents a district in Brooklyn, was arrested for criminal possession of a firearm, according to the NYPD, after photos circulated of her wearing a handgun at her waist outside of a pro-Palestine protest held Thursday at Brooklyn College.

Precautions and tensions increased across the city.

Team TLC NYC, a group that assists the city’s asylum seekers, said that drop-off donations for migrants will no longer be accepted at its temporary location at Congregation Rodeph Sholom on the Upper West Side, after concerned neighbors called the police. 

“The neighbors understandably were concerned about unattended packages left outside of a synagogue during this time of extreme anxiety,” the group posted on Instagram.

–With assistance from Laura Nahmias, Katherine Doherty, Gillian Tan and Daniela Sirtori-Cortina.

(Updates with protests at Columbia University.)

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