That’s the scene captured by one of two videos circulating of recent violent Brooklyn arrests in East New York. Another published by the New York Post shows a similar situation — several police officers violently taking down black suspects as onlookers shout in protest.
Both appear to involve officers from the 75th Precinct. Perhaps most importantly, social distancing enforcement apparently played some type of role in the incidents.
Similar videos have sparked an outcry against NYPD enforcement of social distancing citywide, which many like Anthony Beckford, a Brooklyn city council candidate and Black Lives Matter activist, argue reveals police bias.
“This does not happen to white people who violate social distancing,” Beckford wrote on Twitter. “They are using the #pandemic as a weapon for further brutality. @NYCMayor @NYPDShea bring your rabid animals to heel!”
The videos contrast with widely-circulated photos of police apparently giving a more hands-off approach — except when they handed out masks — to mostly-white park goers elsewhere in the city.
Police officials, in response to the Post video and during a Monday news conference, said lack of compliance at least in part prompted the incidents.
A man in the Post video — which reportedly shows the aftermath of three men being arrested for refusing to socially distance — got thrown to the ground after he rushed the officers from behind.
“Stand back,” an officer shouted as the man lay on the ground.
It’s unclear whether social distancing prompted the arrest shown in the other video. But the baton-wielding officer who punched the suspect does threaten onlookers with arrest for not wearing masks.
At one point in the video, his nose is exposed from his mask.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Tuesday that officers appeared to be following protocol.
“A punch is something we actually train for in the police academy,” Shea said at the mayor’s daily press briefing. “A punch should not be assumed to be excessive force.”
Patrick Lynch, leader of the Police Benevolent Association, on Monday issued a statement calling for police to get out of social distancing enforcement. He claimed cops were being “thrown under the bus” after an “inevitable backlash.”
He went on to decry how politicians discourage enforcement of fare evasion and quality of life issues.
“As the weather heats up and the pandemic continues to unravel our social fabric, police officers should be allowed to focus on our core public safety mission,” he said in the statement. “If we don’t, the city will fall apart before our eyes.”