From the New York Times:
Social Distancing, Without the Police
Letting members of the community enforce social distancing is the better way.
By The Editorial Board
May 18, 2020, 6:00 p.m. ET
Of the 125 people arrested over offenses that law enforcement officials described as related to the coronavirus pandemic, 113 were black or Hispanic. Of the 374 summonses from March 16 to May 5, a vast majority — 300 — were given to black and Hispanic New Yorkers.
Videos of some of the arrests are hard to watch. In one posted to Facebook last week, a group of some six police officers are seen tackling a black woman in a subway station as her young child looks on. “She’s got a baby with her!” a bystander shouts. Police officials told The Daily News the woman had refused to comply when officers directed her to put the mask she was wearing over her nose and mouth.
Contrast that with photographs across social media showing crowds of sun-seekers packed into parks in wealthy, whiter areas of the city, lounging undisturbed as police officers hand out masks. …
Obviously, it has been impossible for photographs to misrepresent how packed parks and beaches are with sun-seekers ever since the disinvention of the telephoto lens in late 2019.
Without a significant course correction, the department’s role in the pandemic may look more and more like stop-and-frisk, the policing tactic that led to the harassment of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, most of them black and Hispanic, while rarely touching white New Yorkers. Mr. de Blasio has scoffed at the comparison, though it’s not clear why.
Aggressive police enforcement of social-distancing measures is nearly certain to harm the health and dignity of the city’s black and Hispanic residents. …
New York is facing a public health crisis, not a spike in crime. Black and Hispanic New Yorkers are already suffering disproportionately from the coronavirus. They don’t need more policing. They need more help.