Letter to de Blasio and Shea on Policing during COVID-19
The New York Civil Liberties Union wrote a letter to Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Shea to express our concerns regarding the NYPD's enforcement of COVID-19 related social distancing measures – in particular, the stark racial disparities, use of force, lack of transparency, and infringements on constitutionally-protected protest activity that have emerged in that enforcement.
The NYPD's behavior has generated legitimate public outcry about excessive force, racial bias, and increased health risks to police and public alike. We also believe that the NYPD’s enforcement of the current state Executive Order against New Yorkers exercising their constitutional right to protest — while outdoors and observing mask and social distancing guidelines — violates their First Amendment rights. A pandemic is a novel and challenging dynamic for all New Yorkers, for the NYPD, and public officials. But nothing about our current situation justifies the NYPD’s recent actions that violate our constitutional values of equal protection and free speech.