The group American Priority posted a viral clip that was recorded in Philadelphia. “These police are throwing this man off of a SEPTA bus because he refused to wear a mask,” the group captioned the video. “That is the ‘crime’ that he committed.”
The video shows a Black passenger being carried off the bus by multiple police officers then being violently slammed against the bus. The whole time he can be heard yelling “Get the fu** off me!”
By the time the officers let go of the man, one of them throws his phone on the ground, which he picks up and holds to his ear to call someone. “I want all y’all fu**ing badge numbers too,” he says to the officers.
All of the cops in the video had on surgical masks while the man kicked off did not, which reportedly caused him to be removed from the bus. “Yea ’cause I ain’t have no fu**ing mask,” the disgruntled man told someone on the phone.
According to WHYY, the man wasn’t arrested, nor did he receive a ticket. The Philadelphia police department said the incident is under investigation.
The SEPTA public transportation service has a new police-enforced mandate that riders have to wear face coverings or else they must exit public transit.
“The covering can be as simple as a shirt, bandana or anything else someone can grab at home before they head out,” spokesperson Andrew Busch said in an email to WHYY. “At a minimum, these masks and facial coverings could help keep the person wearing them from spreading germs, and if everyone wears them, we would have a great deal of added protection.”
Although Busch said that the agency wanted to avoid arrests, riders without a face covering and who are non-compliant can still be removed. Yasha Zarrinkelk, an organizer with Transit Forward Philadelphia, explained that he is “apprehensive” about the policy because of the “potentially negative interactions it might cause between police and riders.“
Such policies also don’t take into account the worries Black people have about wearing face coverings, considering they could cause racial profiling.
Just last month, two Black men wearing surgical masks captured themselves on video being followed by a cop as they departed a Walmart in Illinois. “He just followed us from outside, told us that we cannot wear masks,” one of the guys said in the video posted on YouTube, which shows the cop walking behind the two guys with a hand resting on his gun. “The coronavirus is real. This police officer just put us out for wearing masks and trying to be safe.”
The Center for Disease Control only recently recommended face coverings, as well. Last month, it wasn’t necessarily a mandate across cities.
Some Black people are taking measures to look less “menacing” with their face coverings. “As an African American man, I have to be cognizant of the things I do and where I go, so appearances matter,” a Nashville marketing consultant, Kip Diggs, told The Washington Post. “I have pink, lime green, Carolina blue so I don’t look menacing. I want to take a lot of that stigma and risk out as best I can.”
A Little Rock, Arkansas resident, Cory Anderson, told The Post, “There should be people reassuring us that it’s okay to go out with a mask on. Black and brown people shouldn’t be afraid to wear masks, and they should have access to them.”