Across the country, protesters, journalists, and sometimes bystanders have been arrested in large groups – often for breaking curfews, blocking traffic, failure to disperse, or other minor offenses.
Many were detained for hours in crowded cells with no masks, no hand sanitizer, and no way to stay apart. Police have reportedly torn the masks off some protesters when they were arrested, and many police officers seen at protests have not been wearing masks themselves.
A journalist in New York, Keith Boykin, described how he was filming protesters marching down the West Side Highway in Manhattan around 3:30 p.m. on May 30 when a line of police approached. They arrested Boykin and handcuffed him with a zip tie. Boykin said that when he told them he was with the press, an officer replied, “It doesn’t matter. You’re going to jail.”
An officer pulled down Boykin’s mask, and since he was handcuffed, he couldn’t put it back on. After waiting in a hot van before being transferred onto a police bus, Boykin was eventually taken to 1 Police Plaza, the New York City Police Department’s headquarters, where he was put in a crowded cell with 34 people. Most of the other detainees didn’t have masks, and there was no soap or sanitizer to disinfect their hands. After six hours in police custody, Boykin was released.
“I had no opportunity to make a phone call, no one questioned me, no one read me my rights, and they were exposing me to coronavirus,” he said. “It shouldn’t be this way in America.”
The ‘authorities’ such as police are not wearing masks and remove the masks of those they arrest. Where is their moral authority to enforce curfews, social isolation or keeping people under house arrest?