Majority of New Yorkers arrested for social distancing violations are black, public advocate says

Posted at 11:14 PM, May 07, 2020

The majority of New Yorkers arrested for social distancing violations in New York are black.

Data shows 68 percent of arrests for social distancing violations were of black New Yorkers, 24 percent Hispanic and 7 percent white, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said.

"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 exact breakdown isn't available for each borough, but the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office released an analysis Thursday. Between March 17 and May 4, 40 people were arrested and 35 of those arrested are black. Four Hispanic individuals were arrested and one white person was arrested. DA Eric Gonzalez declined to prosecute all 40 cases.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said the department intends to release detailed information on 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."

While precinct-information on social distancing arrests is not available citywide, the Brooklyn DA's office has broken down the arrests in the borough: 16 in the 73 precinct, five each in the 75 and 79 precincts, four in the 77 precinct and three or less in other precincts. The 73 precinct encompasses Brownsville, where about 76 percent of the population is black and another 20 percent is Hispanic.

"We're just working through the requests that we have received as well as you know, working it through legal," Shea said.

No social distancing arrests have been made on Staten Island.

The family of one person arrested on a social distancing violation in the Bronx called it the new stop and frisk, something Mayor Bill de Blasio refuted Thursday.

"I predicted someone would try to make this parallel and there is no parallel," he said.

He said he's spoken with a number of leaders of communities of color.

"They want to make sure that we are actually continually doing the work of leaving the past behind because the past was absolutely unacceptable in the way communities of color were policed," he said. "We have made a huge amount of progress over these years and we're going to continue to. What happened with stop and frisk was a systematic, oppressive, unconstitutional strategy that created a new problem much bigger than anything it purported to solve. This is the farthest thing from that. This is addressing a pandemic."

This article was written by Aliza Chasan for WPIX.