'They are blatantly snubbing us': Protesters feel at risk as some NYPD officers don't follow guidelines to wear masks

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 1: NYPD officers stand in formation while demonstrators nearby hold a rally in Times Square, law enforcement racism, and the murder of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis Detention on June 1, 2020 in New York denounces city. Days of protest followed, sometimes violent, in many cities across the country
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Scott Heins / Getty Images
NYPD officers were photographed without face masks to limit the spread of the novel corona virus.
Some protesters said they saw an obvious disregard for public safety and well-being.
The NYPD has rejected criticism on this issue.
The department is affected by the corona virus. By May 24, at least 43 members of the NYPD had died from the virus.
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While covered from head to toe with protective gear, New York officials seem to be neglecting one essential protective device: masks. And protesters believe that this will affect their safety given the corona virus pandemic.
According to TIME, officials were seen not wearing protective facewear amid widespread protests, despite the fact that new cases are still appearing in the city.
Andrea Ritchie

@ dreanyc123
Here are a lot of NYPD officers without a mask and without social distancing. An hour before a planned protest in Brooklyn to support justice for #GeorgeFloyd #COVIDWithoutCops
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00:20 - May 30, 2020
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The state of New York was also the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Of the country's over 2 million infections, more than 385,000 were in the state, including 213,000 in New York City alone. The city also saw nearly 22,000 of the state's 30,000 deaths. Hospital stays are also increasing.
Ibrahima Mbaye told insiders that he was arrested when he protested in New York. He described how he was detained and held in close contact with other people who were not given masks, hand disinfectants, or allowed to distance themselves socially. Mbaye said while he was detained, he was taken to a cell where more and more people were being thrown, some of whom had said they were either exposed to the corona virus or had it.
He said the demand for adequate security measures from detainees fell on deaf ears.
"There were people who said quite explicitly that they were positive for coronavirus and then none of them listened to us. They could hear us, we knew they could hear us. They would laugh at us, mock us", he said.
In his circumstances, both prisoners and officials did not wear masks.
"We don't have masks and your cops don't have masks on and we don't want to get infected," Mbaye said.
There is concern that infected officials may pass the virus on to the public without knowledge. The face masks limit how far particles can spread and reduce the risk of transmission.
"When policemen infected with the virus yell and scream from other people within 6 feet, they expel a lot of particles from their mouths because they speak very forcefully," said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for health security said TIME. "That would make asymptomatic transmission easier."
According to the New York Times, the New York City Police Department has an official policy that officials wear masks when interacting with the public.
"When you interact with the public, you must wear masks," said Oleg Chernyavsky, deputy deputy commissioner for legal affairs for the NYPD, during a virtual hearing by the Public Security Committee on May 22. "We are following the instructions of the Ministry of Health."
Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York also ordered all residents to wear face coverings in public to limit the spread of the corona virus.
"Police officers should wear masks," Cuomo said, according to The Times during a press conference on Monday.
Nevertheless, the NYPD apologized for the lack of masks.
"Maybe it was the heat," Sgt. Jessica McRorie of the department's press office said in a statement to The Times. "Maybe it was the 15-hour tours with bulletproof vests in the sun. Maybe it was the helmets. With everything New York has been through in the past two weeks and what we're working towards together, we can put our energy to better use . "
But the demonstrators have seen officials' refusal to wear masks as a message that they are either above the rules that everyone else has to follow, or as apathy for the public good. Both messages seem to contradict their tasks to serve and protect.
"It's symbolic," Cynthia Godsoe told TIME. "They insult us badly."
A Twitter account was created to track down NYPD officers who were seen in public without a mask. In some cases, videographers and photographers turned to the police and wrote down their names and ID numbers, or even asked why they weren't wearing a mask.
NYPD contact tracking
@nypdmaskwatch
SOUND ON: Sick-looking # nypd cop coughs without a mask, which takes over mass control at #TimesSquare, 06.06.2020 #nypdmaskwatch # COVID19 #BlackLivesMatternyc
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10:28 p.m. - June 7, 2020
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See the other tweets from NYPD Contact Tracing
According to The Times, an official confronted by a young man on Saturday and recorded on the @nypdmaskwatch account said, "We have more important things to do."
NYPD contact tracking
@nypdmaskwatch
@ NYCSpeakerCoJo (@CoreyinNYC) was at a protest in WSP where "dozens of police officers were standing near the bow ... not a single officer wore a mask ... they didn't even have the masks around their necks ... it was nothing! #NYPDMaskWatch
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4:36 p.m. - June 12, 2020
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See the other tweets from NYPD Contact Tracing
"It is unsafe and disrespectful to the public," Godsoe told TIME. "This is a rule that we all have to follow and they send a terrible message."
Data from across the country, including New York City, has shown that color communities, particularly black and Hispanic populations, are disproportionately affected by the corona virus.
A report released in May by researchers from amfAR, a nonprofit organization focused on AIDS research, "found that US states where at least 13% of the population are black account for 58% of COVID-19 deaths and 52% of those Detect cases across the country "Business Insider previously reported.
"The crisis can exacerbate existing inequalities, which is reflected in an increased number of hospitalizations and deaths among certain populations in many countries," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, at a press conference on Wednesday.
In New York City, preliminary data showed that the Coronavirus-affected neighborhoods were Latinx communities, NPR reported.
While those in the Latinx community make up only about 29% of the city's population, as of April they made up about 34% of those who died from the virus.
Corona virus can be spread indoors, especially in prisons. According to The Legal Aid Society, 1,408 Department of Corrections employees tested positive for the virus on June 5, corresponding to an infection rate of nearly 13% compared to an infection rate of 2.5% in NYC.
"Based on this analysis, New York prisons have become the epicenter of COVID-19. It is imperative that Albany, City Hall, our local district attorneys, and the NYPD take swift and courageous measures to stem the spread of this deadly virus." Tina Luongo, lawyer responsible for criminal defense practice at the Legal Aid Society, said on her website.
According to TIME, city councilor Donovan Richards, head of the city council's public security committee, said it was hypocritical for officials not to wear masks when they forced social distance before the ban was lifted.
"There shouldn't be anyone above the law, and that's why things are blown up," he says. "The hypocrisy matters why this powder keg caught fire."
And officials who are considered key workers during the coronavirus pandemic are not immune to the virus. By May 23, at least 43 members of the NYPD had died from the virus, and some officers were seen with black memorial tapes on their badges to mourn the loss.
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