While protests raged in New York City on Thursday night, June 4, a food delivery worker who was just doing his job was arrested by NYPD for violating curfew, which he wasn't actually doing because he was deemed an essential worker and was allowed to be out.
The video of his arrest went viral and ignited a discussion about the purpose of curfews. Many argue that curfews implemented on days of protests only serve to provide police forces with an excuse to arrest as many people as they can.
In the video, the Caviar and DoorDash delivery worker is surrounded and handcuffed by cops. It happened shortly after 8 p.m. at Central Park West and 108th Street, according to ABC 7.
You can hear the man plead with police officers, telling them there's something in the app for the food delivery company that he can show that proves that they cannot arrest him. The officers in the video ignore his requests to show them the app.
Indeed, food delivery in New York City is considered an essential job and the man was allowed to be out delivering food at that time. In two tweets, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the incident.
ABC 7 reports that the delivery worker was released before dawn without a summons. An official claimed the man had been on his bike "shouting at officers and recording them with his cell phone, when he was directed to go home. He refused and was taken into custody, at which point he objected and stated he was a delivery worker."
The curfew, which was set at 8 p.m. that night, was used by police as an excuse to make arrests for no other reason. In one instance, also on Thursday night, a couple who was sitting on the stoop of the building they live in were arrested for violating the curfew, even though the stoop of a building is still private property.
It seems apparent that police are using curfews to punish peaceful protesters, essential workers doing their jobs, and others who simply had trouble getting home on time, often due to abrupt changes in public transportation service.
Videos on social media showed cops "kettling" protesters shortly before curfew began, a tactic that effect traps crowds so they aren't able to get out in time and so police can then arrest them once curfew is in effect. One protester explained what they witnessed in a detailed Twitter thread.
"They surrounded us on a narrow residential street in Mott Haven and proceeded to kettle us in together," they write. "The cops on each side both started pushing us in the opposite direction, respectively. They literally entrapped us in a situation that looked like we were pushing them."
Some leaders, including New York State Senator Brad Holyman, are calling for Mayor Bill de Blasio to put an end to the curfew. "The curfew is being abused as cover for violent violations of New Yorkers' rights," he said. "It must end tonight."