PUBLIC ADVOCATE CALLS FOR RELEASE OF NYPD SOCIAL DISTANCING ENFORCEMENT DEMOGRAPHIC DATA

April 21, 2020


Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams called for the release of demographic data related to arrests and enforcement actions taken by the NYPD for violations of social distancing or mask mandates. This follows concerns that enforcement has disproportionately impacted historically over-policed communities of more color, and as these same communities face disparate impact from the COVID-19 crisis. 


In a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday, the Public Advocate requested data on the number of summons and arrests conducted related to COVID-19 mandates, by race and zip code. He also sought information on the measures being taken to encourage cultural awareness around challenges to those mandates and how safety precautions are employed during enforcement.

Public Advocate Williams stated that "As COVID-19 continues to spread and fatalities increase across the five boroughs, we must recognize the disproportionate spread of the virus versus adequate medical resources sent to communities of more color," and that "With this in mind, I'm sure we all share the goal of not exacerbating inequity through enforcement."


The full text of the Public Advocate's letter on these issues is below and can be downloaded here.


Dear Mayor de Blasio: 


I write to you today requesting information on arrests and summons for social distancing and mask ordinance violations. The request to send to my office and make public all data on COVID-19 related arrests and summons, including disaggregation by race and zip code, among other categories. 


As COVID-19 continues to spread and fatalities increase across the five boroughs, we must recognize the disproportionate spread of the virus versus adequate medical resources sent to communities of more color. Adding insult to injury, my office has received reports and taken action against biased testing sites, by which wealthier areas are able to receive more tests than low-income communities of more color. With this in mind, I'm sure we all share the goal of not exacerbating inequity through enforcement. 


I would like to ask the following of your office:

  • How many summons and arrests are being conducted in response to COVID-19 related mandates?
    • Please disaggregate by race and by zip code.
  • What measures are being taken to encourage cultural awareness in regard to the feasibility and practice of social distancing and mask-wearing? 
  • When individuals are being arrested for violations, how are safety and prevention measures being implemented?

I hope to promptly receive this information. Please contact First Deputy Public Advocate for Policy Nick E. Smith, at nsmith@advocate.nyc.gov for questions or further discussion.

Thank you. 
Sincerely,

Jumaane D. Williams Public Advocate for the City of New York

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