Over 80% NYPD social-distancing crackdown arrests are black or Hispanic, but Mayor De Blasio backs cops
As the local police force executes strong social-distancing measures in New York City, it has been found that black and Hispanic people are feeling the brunt more. Data released by the New York Police Department (NYPD) show that out of 374 social-distancing summonses that it has issued since the restrictions were imposed six weeks ago, 304 (81%) were for the Hispanic or African-American people. Out of them, 193 were black and 111 Hispanic.
Besides, statistics released by the police in Brooklyn said 35 of 40 people who have been arrested in the borough between March 17 and May 4 for not abiding by social distancing violations were from the black community, New York Daily Times reported. In Queens borough, 20 arrests were made out of which 16 were black or Hispanic. Across the city, there were 120 arrested related to flouting of social distancing and 92% of those were from the black and Hispanic communities. Only 7% were white.
The fact that such a high number of people from the minority communities have been summoned or arrested in a blue state has disappointed many. Public advocate Jumanee Williams called the situation “abysmal” in a Zoom news conference on Friday, May 8, and said: “This is not the federal government. This is not Donald Trump”.
Williams also lashed out at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio saying they have been pushing for enforcement instead of education, causing heavy-handedness and ‘business as usual’ within the New York police force which has been accused of targeting colored groups earlier as well.
“We were told we were getting a mayor who was going to change this,” Williams said, adding: “That’s what makes some of this so difficult to swallow.”
De Blasio, NY Commissioner Dermot Shea defend police
De Blasio backed the police, claiming that police have actually shown restraint during the lockdown period. “We do not accept disparity, period,” he said during a coronavirus briefing. “On the arrests and summonses, the thing to focus on first, is the sheer fact that we're looking at numbers across a city of 8.6 million people and across a time span I believe is six weeks, the numbers of arrests and summonses are extraordinarily low.”
The mayor then addressed the critics saying he understood the alarms and concerns raised by them but advised them to abide by the ‘sheer facts’ that not many people have been arrested or summonsed.
“And there's been a huge amount of restraint by the NYPD. That's just factually obvious from the numbers, and we intend to keep it that way only using summons and arrest when needed. We're dealing with something absolutely unprecedented, and there's no way in hell we are going to be able to keep people safe if we don't use the strongest, best public safety organization in this country,” de Blasio added.
The NYPD came under the blame days after a video went viral showing a police officer beating up a bystander during an arrest in East Village made during a social-distancing crackdown.
New York is the worst-hit state in the US with over 26,000 dead in the pandemic, much more than the double the death toll in the next worst, New Jersey.
NY Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said the arrests in the city were down by 50% and claimed the overall social-distancing enforcement happened smoothly. He said the police were being soft while enforcing the social distancing. He also said he doesn’t want the NYPD to be a morality police.
Meanwhile, the city police department continued fighting the coronavirus, which had left its manpower in a disarray. Three additional members of the department have died of the virus, the department said on Wednesday, May 6, taking the toll to 41.