The police summonsed more people in Brooklyn for COVID-19-related offenses than anywhere else in the city, with black residents making up two-thirds of police stops in the borough, according to newly-released data.
Between March 16 and May 5, police issued summonses for “acts likely to spread disease” and “violat[ing] emergency measures” to 206 Brooklynites out of 374 citywide. Of those, 138 were to black Kings Countians. Meanwhile, cops summonsed only 42 white people and 25 Hispanic residents, whose tickets amounted to about 20 percent and 12 percent in the borough, respectively, according to data police released on Friday, May 8.
Brooklyn had more summonses than all other boroughs combined, with 99 in the Bronx, 41 in Manhattan, and 28 in Queens. So far, not a single social distancing summonses has been issued in Staten Island.
Black Brooklynites are far overrepresented in the figures, given that they make up only 34 percent of the borough’s population, while whites and Hispanics are underrepresented, making up 43 and 29 percent of the population, respectively, according to US Census data.
Some 121 of the summonses came from just 12 social gatherings during this time, and Patrol Brooklyn Borough North had 123 summonses compared to 83 in the borough’s southern precincts, according to the data.
Most of those arrested were between the ages of 20 and 29, with 172 of the summons coming from that age group, followed by 30-39-year-olds at 75 stops. People ages 16 to 19 and 40 to 49 had between 40 and 50 stops each.
The police released the data — which they say represents a tiny fraction of more than 1,000,000 contacts with the public during that timeframe — after a string of high-profile and violent arrests of black men in Brooklyn and Manhattan, in particular in eastern Brooklyn neighborhoods like East New York, Brownsville, and Cypress Hills.
Video footage that circulated online showed a police officer with the lawsuit-plagued 75th Precinct in Cypress Hills punch a man in the face before taking out a baton and threatening bystanders for not adhering to the mayor’s social distancing and protective equipment guidelines, despite most cops on the scene either not wearing masks correctly, or not wearing masks at all.
A week prior, a plainclothes cop violently arrested a man who was filming another arrest in East New York, also within the 75th Precinct.
The newly-released data — which does not show how many people police arrested versus where officers simply issued a ticket — comes on the heels of criticism from advocates and politicians, who claimed the department is more brutally enforcing the health guidelines in poorer communities of color than in more well-heeled white parts of town.
“The incidents we saw this past weekend in our parks and on our streets and social media feeds have made it abundantly clear that the same historical disparities in police enforcement are reflected in and magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic response,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams in a statement. “This inequity is made clear when some violating social distancing receive a mask while others receive a summons, when some are warned and others violently arrested.”
The racial disparities of coronavirus-related law enforcement came farther into the forefront when Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez released statistics on May 7 showing that in the borough, police arrested 40 people for social distancing violations between March 17 and May 4, 35 of whom were black, the New York Times reported. Four of those people arrested were Hispanic and just one was white, according to the Times.
Brooklyn’s top prosecutor previously announced that his office was investigating a handful of violent arrest videos in the borough, which Gonzalez called “disturbing.”
But Mayor Bill de Blasio countered at his morning press conferences that the NYPD continues to play a central role in enforcing social distancing.
“We absolutely must use the NYPD to keep people safe in every sense, but specifically when fighting this pandemic,” Hizzoner said at his May 8 briefing. “Job-one is to save lives and enforcement is necessary to saving lives and we’re not going to have proper enforcement without the largest, best police force in the country being in the game here.”
De Blasio has since expanded police enforcement in two city parks, including Domino Park at the Williamsburg waterfront, where cops will monitor the crowds, and Hudson River Park in Manhattan, where officers are going to limit the number of people going into the green space to ensure everyone can stay six feet apart.