New York City, hardest hit by COVID-19 in the United States, hasn’t caught many breaks lately.
But it finally got one over the weekend: warm weather.
In fact, Saturday the mercury climbed into the 70s — the warmest day in the city since March 20, the New York Post reported.
Which meant that a lot of New Yorkers headed outside, went for walks, played sports, and gathered at parks. And more than 1,000 New York City police officers were right there with them, too, making sure they abided by social distancing rules, the paper said.
What are the details?
And the sight of the NYPD didn’t sit too well with everybody.
“It’s Orwellian to be watched like this,” one 36-year-old told the Post as she took in the sunshine at Staten Island’s Clove Lakes Park.
“It’s friggin’ nuts,” she also remarked to the paper regarding the influx of patrol cars, park police officers, and bike cops with video camera-equipped helmets equipped.
“It’s like something out of ‘1984,’” the woman added to the Post, yet another reference to George Orwell’s oft-mentioned novel about totalitarianism. “What is this, a military state now?”
The paper said thousands gathered at Central Park to sunbathe and have picnics, and while few wore masks, the groups and individuals kept the required six feet away from each other.
“I walk out of my building [in Chinatown], and I have a cop telling me it’s illegal for me to not wear a face mask outside,” Malcolm Brown, 26, recounted to the Post, adding that when he “started to really pay attention” he noticed “dozens of police vans everywhere. It’s an overwhelming feeling. I understand they are keeping us safe, but do we really want to become China, where they’re recording you when you come out of your building?”
Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images
Witnesses noted to the paper they saw an unusually large law enforcement mobilization at tiny Silver Lake Park in Staten Island: two foot patrol officers, a pair of squad cars, one undercover car, one uniform state Department of Environmental Conservation car, and a Parks Department vehicle.
At Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, the Post said cops got busy when soccer players created makeshift goals with sneakers — as such an object in an organized game draws too much close contact.
“Gentlemen, gentlemen,” one officer told the players, the paper said. “Bring it in, bring it in. Break it up. You can kick the ball back and forth, but these goal posts, they have to go, Okay?”
While the group dispersed as requested, one player called out, “I mean, we wanted to play. It’s nice outside,” the Post said.
Carlos Eduardo, 56, was trying to relax nearby, the paper reported, and found it difficult with so many officers around.
“I don’t want to be watched so much,” he told the Post, adding that “in the house it’s like jail. I don’t want to come to the park and feel like I’m in jail.”
Eduardo added a zinger, the paper said: “We’re all going to die of something.”
What did police have to say?
NYPD has made 60 arrests and handed out 343 summonses since March 16 related to social distancing issues, the Post said.
“The public should expect to see social distancing patrol officers on foot, on bikes, and in vehicles ensuring that social distancing procedures are followed,” NYPD spokeswoman Sgt. Jessica McRorie added to the paper.
Photo by John Nacion/NurPhoto via Getty Images
What did the governor have to say?
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo told New Yorkers to “go for a walk, but respect the social distancing and wear a mask,” adding that he’s told officers all over the state to “enforce the mask executive order,” the Post said.
Cuomo also wasn’t happy with those who didn’t wear masks during protests Friday while calling for the state to reopen, the paper said.
“It’s reckless, it’s irresponsible, and it’s not about your life. It’s about other people’s lives,” he said.