A New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer wearing a protective face mask stands at the entrance of the Sheep Meadow in Central Park during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., May 15, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo


Following a packed pool party at the Lake of the Ozarks, Gov. Mike Parson (R-MO) announced that local officials are responsible for enforcing the state’s social distancing order. Meanwhile, police in Washington D.C. have begun making arrests for those refusing to social distance. Data from Chicago shows police only arrested those on the South and West sides in predominantly black and Latinx neighborhoods. Civil rights advocates filed an emergency motion to halt the New York Police Department’s “disproportionate policing of minorities for social distancing complaints” after black and brown New Yorkers made up 79% of arrests and summonses.  

These events come as an attorney for the Legal Aid Society said encounters have “unnecessarily escalated” between police and the public, especially in neighborhoods that are already over-policed. In New York, groups trained to prevent gun and gang violence are emerging as a force to aid residents in following social-distancing rules, rather than relying on police. Emergency lines have also been choked as people call into 911 to report social distancing violations, prompting police departments to urge reporting to public health agencies instead. 

The “controversial encounters” in New York between law enforcement and the public resulted in Mayor Bill de Blasio loosening police enforcement. This came after New York City’s top police official defended how his officers have enforced social distancing rules, pushing back against the narrative there has been a “racist double standard.” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also spoke in favor of the Chicago Police Department, stating accusations that enforcement is not equal are “fundamentally untrue.” In Toronto, Canada, police are opting to engage with people to educate them rather than enforce fines. Meanwhile Atlanta’s police chief maintained social distancing is not a law enforcement issue.


DC Police Chief Newsham says most cooperate with COVID-19 orders, despite several high-profile incidents – FOX 5 DC – 5/27/2020
D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham says the majority of people in the District are cooperating with officers who are sent out to enforce the city’s social distancing orders. In an interview on FOX 5 Wednesday, Newsham said there have been, however, several situations where people have refused to comply.

Chance The Rapper Calls Out ‘Militarized Police’ For Targeting Black Chicago Neighborhoods Amid Social Distancing – BET – 5/26/2020
On Sunday (May 25), Chance the Rapper took to Twitter to call attention to the issue of people failing to heed social distancing guidelines in his hometown of Chicago, which he feared could in turn unnecessarily bring police presence into vulnerable communities.

How to Safely and Ethically Film Police Misconduct – Teen Vogue – 5/27/2020
On one of the first warm spring weekends in New York City, photos and videos circulated on social media featuring police officers handing out masks to groups of mostly white residents lounging in city parks. That same weekend, videos of police officers — some of whom weren’t wearing protective gear — using excessive force to arrest Black and Brown civilians for allegedly violating social distancing guidelines also circulated online. Videos, filmed by bystanders and community members, are helping to illuminate this new iteration of racist policing during COVID-19.

Coronavirus ID wristbands, buttons could aid post-pandemic social-distancing – Fox Business – 5/26/2020
The C19 I.D. Project is producing color-coded bracelets that communicate everyone’s antibody status.that will hopefully reduce people’s anxiety as they go out into the world. The bracelets could be an easy way to communicate preferences as social distancing policies change while the United States slowly starts to reopen because the deadly coronavirus cases are beginning to decrease.


Chance the Rapper on Twitter, 5/26/2020: Yo I seen HUNDREDS of ppl at millennium park and and pics of even more at the parks on the north side. Outside, no masks, no social distancing, enjoying themselves. Please stop sending large groups of militarized police into our neighborhoods exclusively

Stephanie Lulay on Twitter, 5/26/2020: Mayor Lori Lightfoot claims police have enforced social distancing equally across Chicago. But Chicago Police data shows almost all arrests and citations for congregating have been issued on the city’s South and West sides. @afrodip reports:

NYPD 10th Precinct on Twitter, 5/23/2020: We are out at Hudson River Park, despite the rain, distributing #facecovers to those who need them & educating the public on #SocialDistancing Certainly a nice day to stay home and watch a movie! #StopTheSpread @NYPDPBMS

Melissa Morrone on Twitter, 5/25/2020: Come on, NYC, let’s do the right thing. “[T]he fact that police were tasked with enforcing [social distancing] measures in the first place was a reminder of just how over-reliant on police the city has become…”

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