81 Percent of NYPD's Social Distancing Summonses Were Issued to Blacks and Latinos: 'It's the New Stop and Frisk'

Data released Friday by the New York Police Department (NYPD) shows that 81 percent of coronavirus enforcement summonses from March 16 to May 5 were issued to black and Latino residents.

"Of the 374 summonses issued in regard to social distancing, the respondents for 193 of those summonses are black and the respondents for 111 of those summonses are Hispanic," an NYPD press release said.

"It's the new form of stop-and-frisk," Melissa Mark-Viverito, the former New York City Council Speaker and current congressional candidate for New York's 15th district, told Newsweek. "We went through this battle with stop-and-frisk, of the disproportionate enforcement and over-criminalizing of our communities. It's a mentality that continues to permeate, but unfortunately, it doesn't surprise me."

Whites, who are 32 percent of the population of New York City, only received 51 summonses, accounting for 13 percent of them.

The data comes after images and videos were widely shared online of police interactions with residents of color that drew criticism, including officer Francisco X. Garcia violently knocking down a bystander after a social distancing violation by two separate people. In the cellphone video, Garcia can be seen angrily throwing the bystander, who is black, to the ground while repeatedly punching him and sitting on him until another officer handcuffed him.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that what he saw was "absolutely unacceptable," noting that Garcia was "swiftly" taken off the street by the NYPD and an investigation was opened.

De Blasio has sought to frame incidents like those as exceptions, not the rule, in the course of responding to a pandemic, and not as widespread a problem as the stop-and-frisk policy, which he criticized after it blossomed under his predecessor Mike Bloomberg.

The data on summonses comes just a day after the Brooklyn district attorney's office released arrest figures showing that out of the 40 people who were arrested due to coronavirus social-distancing enforcement, 35 were black, four were Latino, and one was white. The figures were released as New York City continues to battle a COVID-19 crisis that has disproportionately affected blacks and Latinos in terms of infections and death rates.

Asked for comment by Newsweek about these figures in light of the pandemic, the NYPD's public information office copy and pasted the first paragraph of its press release, noting that the summonses were based on 1,000,000 contacts with the public "for acts likely to spread disease and to violate emergency measures."

Mark-Viverito, like many New Yorkers and respondents on social media, noted that violations of emergency measures did not seem to apply when it was predominantly white people hanging out on piers and in parks, with photos emerging of officers handing them masks.

"It's disgusting and it's unacceptable and the mayor is not taking it seriously," Mark-Viverito said. "Advocates have fought to bring transparency and accountability to the NYPD and you feel you've made some progress, but maybe not so much."

Correction 5/12/2020, 07:20 a.m. ET: This article was updated to correct the number of Hispanic respondents to 111.

NYPD officers wearing a masks can be seen during a daily briefing in the Union Square subway station amid the coronavirus pandemic on May 6, 2020 in New York City. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images/Getty