Philadelphia Police Department officers are reevaluating their conduct during the coronavirus pandemic after a video went viral on Friday (April 10).
The video shows several officers forcibly removing an unidentified man from a SEPTA bus for not wearing a face mask. After the man was pulled off the bus, there was a short confrontation, but no arrests or tickets resulted from the incident.
According to WHYY, a SEPTA bus driver and police officers ordered the man to exit the bus several times and he refused, leading officers to physically remove him.
Following the viral video, SEPTA reportedly reversed the requirement that all riders wear face masks.
“Today’s incident involving the [Philadelphia Police Department] … may be more than just a face-covering enforcement, but it has caused SEPTA to reevaluate whether riders should be required to wear a face covering,” SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel said in an email to the transit police force, WHYY reports. “We can no longer use a lack of face-covering or traveling for nonessential reasons as a reason to conduct police contact.”
Now, SEPTA is simply urging their customers to wear any face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“The covering can be as simple as a shirt, bandana, or anything else someone can grab at home before they head out,” said spokesperson Andrew Busch in an email to WHYY. “At a minimum, these masks and facial coverings could help keep the person wearing them from spreading germs, and if everyone wears them, we would have a great deal of added protection.”
Due to a shortage of face masks across the country, many are relying on t-shirts or bandanas to cover up.
For some in the Black community, even that might not be a comfortable option. Many Black people have expressed their concern for police harassment if seen wearing a bandana over their faces.
According to CNN, criminal justice and fashion have often made a deadly combination. A number of people on social media shared their concerns about being perceived as criminals.
“We have a lot of examples of the presumed criminality of Black men in general,” Trevor Logan, an economics professor at Ohio State University, told CNN. “And then we have the advice to go out in public in something that ... can certainly be read as being criminal or nefarious, particularly when applied to Black men.”
The coronavirus response guidelines come after more than 130 SEPTA employees, including police officers, reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus.
For the latest on the coronavirus, check out BET’s blog on the virus, and contact your local health department or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Photo Credit: Sebastian Condrea
TRENDING IN NEWS