As people protested around the country in response to the death of George Floyd, the nation has seen video after video of police tear gassing, shoving, and shooting at protestors. At massive protests in New York, a police van drove through a protest, and one officer even pulled a handgun on protestors in Manhattan’s Union Square.
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Homeless New Yorkers can’t stay home. And many are right to fear the danger of living on the streets, where they are subject to sweeps and other abusive policing, or in crowded shelters, which have become hotspots for coronavirus transmission.
Without adequate options for housing or safe shelter, more homeless New Yorkers have been driven to the transit system in recent months, as a safer option than the alternatives.
Last week, a group of Orthodox Jewish people gathered at a lot located at 55th Street between 14th and 15th avenues in Crown Heights to celebrate Lag B’Omer, a Jewish holiday. There were dozens in the area dancing, with loud music blaring and no masks being worn. They were openly flouting social distancing rules. Police officers eventually showed up and cleared the area without incident.
With New York City facing a $10 billion shortfall in tax revenues due to COVID-19, Mayor Bill de Blasio last month unveiled his plan for “painful” cuts to city services. His executive budget, set to be finalized with input from the City Council next month, calls for sweeping and immediate retrenchment — freezing new teacher hires, hobbling environmental initiatives, and cancelling the widely popular youth employment program.
In the Queens borough of New York City, which is 47.9% white, police officers have arrested at least 20 people over social-distancing issues since May 3.
Out of those 20 people, 16 were black or Hispanic, two were Asian, and two were white, a representative for the Queens District Attorney's Office told Business Insider. That means 90% of those arrested were people of color.
In the six weeks since March 17, police officers in Brooklyn have arrested 40 people for violating social-distancing rules.
Thirty-five of the people arrested were black and four Hispanic. Just one is white, even though 49.5% of Brooklyn residents are white, according to the US Census Bureau.
That means that 39 out of 40 — or 97.5% — of the arrests were for people of color.
All 40 cases have been dropped.
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues, concerns over how police are enforcing orders to help quell the spread of the virus are coming into question.
Reports indicate that the NYPD is enforcing social distancing regulations. Violating them can get you arrested with a fine of up to $1,000 or merely a summons. Mayor Bill de Blasio urged New Yorkers to call 311 on citizens who are not obeying social distancing rules. There is even a texting number to send photos to.
Advocates and elected officials urged Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to house homeless New Yorkers in vacant hotel rooms during a press call on Tuesday as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage New York City.
Many advocacy groups are banding together to be a voice for the homeless population during the coronavirus pandemic and are asking that the city's hotel rooms be opened up for them.
Winston Tokuhisa told News 12 he has been homeless since 2006.
“I think we need to recognize that we are the most vulnerable,” said Tokuhisa.
ALBANY — Advocates and elected officials, including New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, are urging Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to house up to 30,000 homeless individuals in unused hotel rooms to help them engage in social distancing and limit the spread of COVID-19.
With support from several New York City council members and state Sen. Zellnor Myrie and state Assembly members Walter Mosley, Yuhline Niou and Harvey Epstein, the group said the move would stem the spread of coronavirus among people living on the streets as well as in homeless shelters.