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A ban on face masks has been considered by Gov. Kathy Hochul in New York City subway system. She considered so because of people shielding their identities while performing antisemitic acts. Hochul is a democrat said to reporters that this policy would contain “common-sense exemptions” for health, culture and religious reasons. People started wearing masks on routine basis after COVID-19 and air pollution. She also declared that she is crafting a bill regarding this along with the lawmakers. During a conference at Albany, governor said she is considering for this type of act after,  “a group donning masks took over a subway car, scaring riders and chanting things about Hitler and wiping out Jews” on Monday night. The incident she was referring is still unclear.

Hundreds of people started rally into a subway station and also waving flags and banging on drum to get on trains headed towards downtown. On one of the trains, a man wearing mask was chanting “Raise your hands if you’re a Zionist” and also “This is your chance to get out”. “We will not tolerate individuals using masks to evade responsibility for criminal or threatening behavior,” Hochul said. “My team is working on a solution. But on a subway, people should not be able to hide behind a mask to commit crimes.”

A law that banned mask wearing in public has been passed in the 1800s in New York when people protested over rents. The law was then got suspended in 2020 due to COVID-19. The mask ban could affect the civil rights as the groups doing protests would not be able to hide their identities to avoid legal or professional repercussions. “The Governor’s concerns about masks disguising criminal activity won’t be quelled by banning anonymous peaceful protest. Mask bans were originally developed to squash political protests and, like other laws that criminalize people, they will be selectively enforced — used to arrest, doxx, surveil, and silence people of colour and protestors the police disagree with,” Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. “A mask ban would be easily violated by bad actors and, if someone’s engages in unlawful actions, the judgement should be made based on the criminal behaviour, not their attire,” she said.

Hochul also said, “We understand how complex this issue is, and we’re just listening to people and addressing their needs and taking them very seriously.” Due to the war between Hamas and Israel, hundreds of demonstrators by pro-Palestinian activists are in the city, out which some are peaceful and are wearing masks because of fears about police surveillance.

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