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Testimony on NYPD Enforcement of Social Distancing

The New York Civil Liberties Union submitted testimony regarding the New York Police Department’s enforcement of COVID-19 related social distancing measures.

The NYPD has played an outsized role in the response to the pandemic, and its overall approach has been cause for concern. We note, in particular, the stark racial disparities, use of force, and lack of transparency that have emerged in the Department’s enforcement of COVID-19 related social distancing measures. The NYCLU is dismayed by the NYPD’s stubborn defense of behavior that has generated legitimate public outcry about excessive force, racial bias, and increased health risks to police and the public alike.

While we recognize the need to ensure public health and safety as the city responds to the pandemic, the NYPD’s actions are—and must be—bound by the Constitution. A pandemic calls for many measures that would be unacceptable under other circumstances; but it does not justify measures that are not required to protect the public health like discriminatory policing or excessive force.

Read the full testimony below.

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