Women’s Caucus condemns assault of a mother and social distancing enforcement

The Women’s Caucus
Courtesy of Office of CM Vanessa Gibson

Recently, data showed that 80 percent of the people issued summonses for social distancing have been people of color, while video showed a woman in Brooklyn was violently assaulted by police.

On May 14, the New York City Council Women’s Caucus, came out and voiced their support for Kaleemah Rozier, the 22-year old mother, who was viciously attacked by cops when she was not properly social distancing. The council condemned the police for their actions.

In a recent video released on social media, Rozier was forced onto the ground by multiple officers and handcuffed for not fully wearing her face mask. This was one of multiple videos that have circulated in recent weeks of police officers enforcing social distancing through use of excessive force on black residents, including the violent arrest of Donni Wright in the East Village on May 2 and two similar altercations that occurred in Brooklyn on May 2 and May 4.

The caucus urges the NYPD to denounce this egregious behavior, including the use of derogatory and misogynistic language directed at Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot by Sergeant Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins.

Mullin’s comments followed a heated phone call between Barbot and NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan, in which he asked for 500,000 masks for police officers in March. The health commissioner allegedly replied that “I don’t give two rats’ asses about your cops.”

Women’s Caucus Co-Chair Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson expressed her frustration with the police.

“In recent weeks, while a majority of interactions with law enforcement have been positive, we must denounce any use of excessive force,” Gibson said. “It is disturbing that during the altercation with Kaleemah Rozier, her young child stood only a few feet away from her and has undoubtedly experienced trauma as a result of this incident. Our communities are already hurting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and are in need of support. I stand with my colleagues in the Women’s Caucus in demanding accountability and offer words of healing to Kaleemah and others that have been victims of excessive force by law enforcement.”

Councilwoman Diana Ayala, chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addictions, shared her sentiments.

“It is unacceptable that we continue to see racial disparities in social distancing enforcement across our city,” Ayala said. “To avoid more tragic incidents like this from happening, we must move towards a community-based approach that relies on cure violence providers, faith-based organizations, and other local leaders. We can defend public health without harming our fellow New Yorkers.”

The caucus is calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea to work with the black, Latino and Asian elected officials to address these disparities, find alternatives to current methods of enforcement and investigate and hold the officers involved accountable. It is also demanding an end to the disproportionate issuing of social distancing summonses, in which black and Hispanic residents received 81 percent of the summonses despite making up less than 60 percent of New York City’s population.