New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is condemning the takedown of a woman in front of her child on the New York City subway.
Unfortunately, he’s part of the problem that incidents like these illustrate.
According to WABC-TV, Kaleemah Rozier, a 22-year-old mother traveling with her child, was tackled on video by a horde of NYPD officers at the Atlantic Avenue/Barclays Center stop in Brooklyn just before noon on Wednesday.
Police say she had a mask around her neck and, when told to wear it on her face by police officers handing out masks at the station, became belligerent.
After being told that she couldn’t enter the subway without having the mask on, she allegedly launched into a profane tirade at the officers, which police say included a threat to “cough on all of you.”
She was escorted from the station two times. She came down a different set of steps and tried to enter the station a third time — and was violently taken to the ground on video because she smacked away a police officer’s arm.
The clip begins as Rozier is coming up the stairs, clearly disgruntled. Even though Rozier seemed to be complying, one of the police officers puts his hand on her — probably to guide her.
Rozier can be clearly heard telling the police officer not to touch her. When they touch Rozier again, she smacks their arm away.
And thus began a distinctly lowering sight of the type we’ve seen not infrequently in these coronavirus-infused days:
Mom placed in handcuffs after altercation with #NYPD & #MTA over not fully wearing her mask in #Brooklyn #NYCSubway station. Police say woman wouldn’t listen, but wasn’t arrested and charged, rather taken out of station. Courtesy: Anthony Davis on FB pic.twitter.com/nohs9NpuGj
— Dean Meminger (@DeanMeminger) May 13, 2020
“She got a baby with her,” the transit rider recording the interaction can be heard saying. “That’s too much.”
Apparently, that wasn’t too much, because we’re here now. Rozier now faces charges of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and harassment.
Mayor de Blasio blasted the manner in which the woman was taken to the ground.
“It shouldn’t have gone down that way, period,” he said Thursday. “Does not respect our values. It’s not what will we want to see in the city.”
The NYPD, as is to be expected, stood behind the officers.
“We are confident that the police officers in this incident acted appropriately and with respect,” the department said in a statement.
De Blasio also tweeted that New York City had “made progress with de-escalation. This isn’t it.”
Face coverings are important to protect everybody — they’re not optional.
But no one wants to see an interaction turn into this.
We’ve made progress with de-escalation. This isn’t it. https://t.co/jVx22uLSj8
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) May 14, 2020
But, indeed, it might be the city itself that’s put its own officers squarely in the path of takedowns like this.
Should this mother have been treated this way by the police?
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The New York City Police Benevolent Association, a union that represents many of the city’s police officers, has warned that having cops enforce social distancing isn’t a great idea.
“This situation is untenable: the NYPD needs to get cops out of the social distancing enforcement business altogether. The cowards who run this city have given us nothing but vague guidelines and mixed messages, leaving the cops on the street corners to fend for ourselves,” New York City PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said in a statement last week.
“Nobody has a right to interfere with a police action. But now that the inevitable backlash has arrived, they are once again throwing us under the bus.
“Meanwhile, those same politicians are still watering down our laws, releasing real criminals and discouraging proactive enforcement of fare evasion and quality of life issues. As a result, our subways are in chaos and we have hero nurses getting mugged on their way to our hospitals. 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. If we don’t, the city will fall apart before our eyes.”
Also, while one understands the subway has emerged as a vector for infection with overcrowded trains, that’s partially the city’s making.
Both bus and subway service has been drastically cut by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which controls the city’s public transit. Thus, thanks to their “essential service plan,” you get scenes like this even though ridership is way down:
4:30 PM today, #2 BX bound train. Trains are infrequent. All cars were this crowded. Social distancing? Containment? Essential workers are at risk. @NYCTSubway @WajahatAli @NYCMayor @NYGovCuomo @Gothamist @NY1 @nyc311 @nytimes @JumaaneWilliams @AOC @shaunking @NewYorker @ABC7NY https://t.co/IEx8B9KdyM pic.twitter.com/Wp7Kj5Ca8i
— Hiam Abbas (@showmetheequity) March 30, 2020
We shouldn’t see mothers put on the ground because they wouldn’t wear a mask the right way.
No, it doesn’t mean that she should have slapped this police officer’s arm away, but I would hope we could all agree more damage was done by wrestling a mother to the floor of a Brooklyn subway station than by letting her ride the rails with her face mask around her neck.
The problem isn’t the police. The problem is the spirit of the lockdown. When it’s gotten to a state where someone can be treated like this simply for not wearing a mask the right way, people need to take a stand for decency and freedom.
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