Coronavirus is Not Above Your Freedom #ReOpenNY
On Saturday, an estimated group of 20 people rallied outside of City Hall in New York City to reopen New York. Out of the estimated 20 that were present, nine were arrested for not social distancing and going against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive order.
The mayor issued the order a day after the Reclaim Pride LGBT group held a protest. During the press conference held by city officials, a question was asked regarding the violations of people’s First Amendment rights.
NYPD Commissioner, Dermot Shea responded, “You’re talking about some of the values we hold in the highest regard in this country and certainly in this city, the right for people to gather, the right to free speech and the right to protest. But now comes the bad news, we’re in a pandemic and executive orders have been issued, these are laws that have been passed down through executive order to keep people alive, while we greatly, greatly respect the right of people to protest, there should not be protests taking place in the middle of a pandemic by gathering outside and putting people at risk.”
Mike Gee, an activist, and independent video creator said, “We were peacefully protesting even social distancing unlike the cops and after about 20 minutes cops started warning us with a speaker to leave the park. That we are unlawfully assembling, they arrested a few in the park, and outside they decided to arrest the rest of us.”
Eric Butler was at the protest due to the economic strain the lockdown placed on him. “I’m traditionally not big on protesting, but they took my job so now seemed like a good time. We were there just sitting on the bench talking politics and stuff because clearly, this medical crisis has turned political,” he said. Butler also commented on how the police arrested him.
He said, “The cops closed the park, locked the gates, and as we’re leaving the park, they started to cuff us for not walking away fast enough, I guess. Some people were saying they were taken for not ‘distancing’ others said for not wearing a mask, but I honestly don’t recall the officer that cuffed me mentioning any reason at all.
Linda Beaux was another individual who was arrested, but she was also arrested the day before the protest. She said her reasons for going out were, “I was there because on Friday I was arrested standing in front of city hall protesting per the first amendment, while following social distancing guidelines, to open the city. So, Saturday I was there because I no longer have the right to freedom of speech.”
She mentioned that the NYPD did not move in to arrest them quickly until later when they had a “brigade” of officers where the protestors were outnumbered at least “three to one.”Her charges were listed as “Violating Mayor’s Executive Order” and “Failure to Disperse.”
The lockdown has also affected Beaux’s life for the worst.“My child is no longer enrolled in an official school. Her school is unprepared for teaching online. We had an issue prior to regarding her charter school not having an ESL program. Now basically my child’s education, even though she is five, is down the drain.”
Beaux also commented on her an aspiration she is working towards. To Governor Cuomo’s statement on just becoming an essential worker, she has been enrolled in a nursing school program, but with much frustration due to the limitations put in place. “I am in nursing school and I am learning how to become a nurse via computer. Virtual simulation. I do not think it is fair to me or the people I will be treated,” she said.
She added, “I worked part-time for an accounting firm which has been closed since the New York State on pause. And because of security reasons for client information, I cannot work from home. I haven’t gotten unemployment, I’m living off my savings and getting some help from my mother thank God, but she is also not working as much because she is a real estate agent.”
According to the NYPD the protestors were taken away in one of their vehicles and were released with summons like those seen above.