As New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s curfew—imposed conveniently at a time when protesters have taken to the streets to demand an end to police brutality and racial injustice—continues to backfire, it appears the NYPD is now arresting even essential workers who are permitted to continue performing their jobs.
New York City instituted a curfew this week following days of peaceful protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police. Originally beginning at 11 p.m. Monday, the city then extended the curfew into next week and bumped curfew up three hours to 8 p.m. While the mayor’s executive order did state that the curfew would not apply to “individuals travelling [sic] to and from essential work and performing essential work,” which includes food delivery.
However, this was evidently lost on the NYPD, who were filmed arresting a Caviar delivery worker whose bag clearly designated the individual’s work.
The video was shared to Twitter Thursday evening by journalist Peter Hess (who is a former colleague). In the video, several police officers can be seen detaining the worker while the individual’s Caviar delivery bag rests next to a bike. The video was taken by a friend, Hess said, who asked not to be identified over safety and retaliation concerns.
A separate video shows police arresting a Caviar courier—it’s not clear if it’s the same incident but appears to be—with that courier clearly heard telling police, “I’m not even doing anything. It tells me on the app that I can show you guys something.” The Verge previously reported on the videos.
The NYPD did not immediately return repeated requests for comment. However, a spokesperson for the department told the Verge that “police detained the male, verified his credentials and he was released.” It’s unclear if other deliver workers were arrested last night but we’ve also seen other protected workers like journalists and at least one legal observer arrested, beaten, or otherwise harassed by the NYPD.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Caviar’s parent company DoorDash said it was “gathering information” about the incident.
“We are alarmed by reports that a courier appears to have been arrested this evening in New York City shortly after curfew,” the spokesperson said. “Under the City’s curfew order, food delivery workers are deemed ‘essential’ and permitted to travel to and from work and to be in public while performing their work while the curfew is in effect. We are gathering information and are in contact with City officials to determine what transpired. Essential workers must be able to complete their work and feel safe and secure while doing so, and we are prepared to provide them with our support.”
The company did not, however, respond to further questioning about specifically how it planned to support workers, or whether it plans to take legal action against the city for the NYPD arresting a worker for attempting to do their job—which, again, is protected under the essential work classification.
When asked for comment more broadly on the curfew in place as well as the company’s position on the recent protests unfolding in cities across the nation, the spokesperson responded only by saying that DoorDash was “tailoring operations based on the guidance we have received from governments, including suspending service to abide by local curfews or reducing hours for the safety of our community.” It’s worth noting that these vague responses and refusal to answer questions related to the arrest of one of DoorDash’s own is entirely unsurprising coming from a company that has historically indicated it does not give a shit about its workers.
Mayor de Blasio, meanwhile, tweeted just after midnight on Thursday evening said he’d spoken with Police Commissioner Dermot Shea about the “troubling video of a delivery worker arrested by police while doing his job. This is NOT acceptable and must stop. Food delivery is essential work and is EXEMPTED from the curfew.”
If only there were someone—anyone!—who could do something about the arrest of essential workers and documented excessive force being used by police against protesters calling for an end to police brutality. Anyone? Not even the mayor responsible for this mess whose daughter was recently doxxed by an NYPD union? Good fucking god.
Looking for ways to advocate for black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.