Data was finally released on Thursday, breaking down social distancing arrests by race in New York City, and the numbers are staggering. According to Pix11, most of the people the NYPD arrested for social distancing violations are Black.
The data shows that 68 percent of the arrests were Black New Yorkers, 24 percent Hispanic and 7 percent white.
The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office released the analysis. However, the data isn’t broken down borough-by-borough yet. Forty people were arrested between March 17 and May 4, and according to the report, 35 of those arrested are Black. Four Hispanic people were arrested and one white person was arrested. District attorney Eric Gonzalez is refusing to prosecute all 40 of the social distancing cases, considering the racial disparities.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio defended the police arrests and summonses when handling social distancing, although he said “we have to do better.”
“Saving lives in this pandemic is job one. The NYPD uses summonses and arrests to do it,” he tweeted. “Most people practice social distancing, with only hundreds of summonses issued over 6 weeks.”
He continued, “But the disparity in the numbers does NOT reflect our values. We HAVE TO do better and we WILL.”
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said that the department plans on releasing more detailed information about the arrests.
“We are absolutely committed to being as transparent as possible,” he said. “I would anticipate releasing a quite a bit of information detailed down to the precinct level, possibly as even as different parks.”
Meanwhile, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams — who’s been calling for social distancing data broken down by race and location for a while — is upset with the department’s slow moves.
“The administration stalled to deliver this data, and now we know why,” he said. “This virus has disproportionately claimed thousands of black and brown bodies, and now, in response, it is black and brown bodies facing the kind of over-policing never seen in other communities.”
The videos of Black people in New York being beaten and brutalized over social distancing incidents have sparked outrage across the city. “While white folks are being given refreshments in the park by police during COVID-19, black people are being harassed and brutalized in their communities,” wrote congressional candidate and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Greater NY Chivona Renée Newsome, who witnessed the arrest of fellow activist Hawk Newsome.
Photos have gone viral on social media showing mostly white crowds lounging at parks without social distancing. One image in particular, shows crowds living care-free at the Christopher Street Pier on the West side of Manhattan. In some images, police officers were even handing out masks to people not social distancing, a clear contrast to how Black people were being treated in videos.
Meanwhile, Black people are disproportionately contracting and dying form the coronavirus. According to an April New York Times report, the preliminary death rate for Black people in the city was about 20 people per 100,000 whereas the rate for white people was 10 per 100,000. Black folks represent 28 percent of the deaths but make up 22 percent of the population. The rate is highest for Hispanic people with 22 people per 100,000. Data maps show that parts of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx have wide cases of the coronavirus, which coincides with heavily Black and Hispanic areas.
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