NY’s Top Prosecutor Calls Out NYPD for Unequal Enforcement of Mask Rule

NY’s Top Prosecutor Calls Out NYPD for Unequal Enforcement of Mask Rule

New York - Police in New York City have been making arrests in black and other minority neighborhoods for not wearing face masks while cheerfully handing out masks to those uncovered in white areas, charged state Attorney General Letitia James.

James demanded on Wednesday that the NYPD hand over emails and documents connected to how they are enforcing social distancing rules throughout the city.

“The apparent unequal enforcement of social distancing policies is deeply troubling, and deepens the divide between law enforcement and the people they are tasked to protect,” James said in a statement. “It is inherently wrong to aggressively police one group of people, yet ignore another group that commits the same infraction.”

Recent reports, along with photos and video, show NYPD officers forcefully enforcing distancing procedures in minority communities. A video taken on May 2 in the East Village, for example, captures plainclothes officers — who themselves are not wearing protective masks — arresting two blacks for allegedly ignoring an order to disperse. The video later shows one of the officers approaching a black bystander with his taser drawn, tackling and repeatedly punching him, dragging him onto the sidewalk, and then kneeling on his neck as he is handcuffed.

Another video from the next day shows officers arresting black men who had congregated in front of their Brownsville homes, in one instance throwing a man to the ground.

In white communities, it is alleged that rather than making arrests, officers issued summonses and gave out free face masks to the thousands of social distance violators in public parks.  

The attorney general’s office has requested that the NYPD submit all documents regarding policies or directives for enforcing social distancing laws and regulations, including any materials used to train officers. She also wants data on 311 complaints of alleged violations, and details of arrests, including the total number of arrests based on race, precinct and age group.

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