Last night, as every night for the past nine days, protestors gathered in cities around the country — and social media feeds turned into a parade of police brutality. Upstate, Buffalo police officers were captured shoving an old man over. In the Bronx, protesters say they were kettled and pepper sprayed by cops before the curfew, while the owners of La Morada tell Grub Street that cops arrested at least two volunteers helping them with deliveries for Bronx residents in need.
In one widely circulated video, six cops were documented detaining a delivery worker in uptown Manhattan less than 30 minutes after the city’s 8 p.m. curfew.
In the video, the worker, whose bag from the delivery service Caviar can be clearly seen, is heard pleading with the cops. “Are you serious? Look, look, look” the worker says as cops encircle and arrest him. “I’m not even doing anything. It tells me on the app I can show you something. It tells me on the app you can’t arrest me.” One cop can be heard responding, “You’re violating curfew.”
In fact, the worker was not violating anything. The worker was released without charges, a NYPD spokesperson tells Insider, which also reports that NYPD spokesperson Mary O’Donnell says of the arrest, “tonight was the night, zero tolerance.” Mayor de Blasio had said, clearly and directly, that essential workers are not subject to the curfew. Guidelines from the mayor’s own office state, in no uncertain terms, “Food deliveries are essential under the ESDC guidance.”
In a response last night, the mayor tweeted, “this is NOT acceptable and must stop,” but stopped short of offering any details on how he’d stop it. In an eviscerating editorial about the mayor’s inaction, the New York Times editorial board writes today that “de Blasio appears unwilling to confront the reality” of police violence during these protests. As for the curfew itself, the Times argues it “primarily seems to be serving to criminalize what would otherwise be lawful assemblies.”
Delivery workers have already been forced to put their health and safety on the line — having been deemed essential workers — so that other (richer) people can stay in their homes. Delivery workers were already navigating a pandemic — while pointing out that delivery companies like Instacart haven’t given them necessary protections — and are now they’re subject to unlawful arrest because of an undemocratic curfew.