What part of “stay home” did they not understand?
That’s what cops must have been asking themselves when they broke up a mass gathering in Manhattan on Monday afternoon. The event was a party in which one attendee said the participants promised to wear masks and practice social distancing while having a good time.
The explanation didn’t matter to the NYPD, entrusted to enforce city and state orders on occupancy and social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak. Officers handed out summonses to 38 revelers for criminal trespassing. Five individuals also received summonses for marijuana possession.
Two individuals were found to have outstanding warrants, including one who was sought for burglary, police officials said.
Police from the 13th Precinct hit the The Loft in the Flatiron District at 20 West 23rd Street at about 4:30 p.m. on April 20 after calls that there was a disturbance going on in the rental.
When police arrived, they found numerous people in the apartment. Most of those present were hit with a desk appearance ticket, while four people were escorted to the precinct in handcuffs, undisclosed charges pending.
None of those leaving the building guarded by mask-wearing cops would comment. Only one person said it was supposed to be a “social distance, mask wearing party.” Some of those leaving the building attempted to hide, wore their masks, and some made obscene gestures to photographers on the scene.
Most residents were incredulous that anyone would be having mass gatherings given the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Steve White, a resident of the neighborhood, said people should be given opportunity to gather if confirmed not to have the virus.
“I think that if they were all verified that they don’t have COVID-19, if you’ve taken all the proper measures to make sure you don’t have it, and are not a carrier, then life goes on,” White said. “Why should a bunch of people who verified that they don’t have it be prevented from gathering in that case. I respect the desire to contain and nip this in the bud – but honestly, I think this is all a crying shame.”
This latest bust occurred as the NYPD struggles to regain former strength, with yet the ninth straight day of reductions in sick reports with 13.8% of the uniformed members still out.
On Saturday night, 60 people were issued summonses and two were arrested for gun possession at a rap video filming and after party at a Canarsie barber shop.
It also comes as the department mourns yet another member of the department with the death of Traffic Section Commander Mohammed Chowdhury, assigned to Brooklyn Traffic Enforcement, who died Sunday, April 19, from complications related to the coronavirus.
Chowdhury became a member of the NYPD in April 30, 1990. Chowdhury is the 30th member of the department to lose his life to Covid-19.
To date, 4,435 members of the NYPD have tested positive for coronavirus. As of April 20, 2,342 members of the NYPD have returned to work full duty after recovering from a positive test for the coronavirus and 1,695 uniformed members plus 368 civilian members are still out sick diagnosed with coronavirus.
The NYPD has been visiting numerous locations, some based on tips from the public. Mayor Bill de Blasio has insisted that the law would be used equally against all those who are violating the prohibition against public gatherings of more than 10 people.
Officers continue to visit restaurants, bars, supermarkets, salons and public spaces to remind individuals of the ban on congregating in public spaces and to practice social distancing and have visited thousands of locations.
Commissioner Dermot Shea said cops went shopping for a 90-year-old Korean War veteran after he called 311 saying he was unable to get groceries. Cops from the 107th Precinct went the store and used their own money to purchase food for the man.