FOX 5 NY - The Reverend Al Sharpton has added his voice to the growing controversy over the NYPD’s enforcement of social distancing guidelines in New York City after a recent report showed that over 80 percent of all summonses for violating those guidelines have been issued to blacks and Hispanics.
“How do you decide on one side of town to come and arrest people or give summonses to people, and on the other side you in a very mannerable way give them facemasks,” Sharpton said. “It is a form of racial profiling in a pandemic.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who did not hold a briefing on Saturday, had previously said that he found the disparities in summonses as an indication that something had gone wrong.
The Brooklyn and Queens District Attorneys have both said they do not plan on prosecuting arrests made due to social distancing, with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams also compared the tactics to Stop & Frisk.
“Many of those arrests are not only for social distancing, they’re charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, assault on a police officer, those charges stay with you for the rest of your life,” Adams said. “So you do not try to save my life by harming my life.”
However, De Blasio has made clear that the answer cannot be less enforcement.
“We are doing to use the NYPD, we absolutely must use the NYPD to keep people safe in every sense, but specifically when fighting this pandemic,” De Blasio said.
Sharpton told FOX 5 NY that he spoke to Police Commissioner Dermot Shea and requested that officers who deal with enforcement different for different communities be punished. In response, the NYPD told FOX 5 NY that of the 1,000,000 contacts they have had with the public regarding social distancing, there were less than 400 summonses issued.