Footage of police in New Jersey informing anti-lockdown protesters they’re in violation of Covid-19 executive orders, but will not face consequences, is the latest example of officers taking a more hands-off approach to the rules.
People began gathering outside Atilis Gym in southern New Jersey hours before it opened on Monday to show support for the business defying executive orders from the governor, and to protest the continuing lockdown measures in place across the state.
While almost no protesters wore face coverings and were clearly breaking social distancing guidelines by gathering in a big crowd, police simply informed those gathered that they were in violation of current orders – and to “have a nice day.”
“Formally, you are all in violation of the executive order,” an officer told the crowd. “On that note, have a good day. Everybody be safe.” Police then left the area to the sound of cheers from the protesters.
🇺🇸”You’re all in violation of @GovMurphy’s Executive Order-on that note-have a good day& be Safe.” LEOs at #Atilis gym in Bellmawr NJ stand with American Patriots in support of civil rights& in defiance of tyrannical& unconstitutional StayAtHome orders!pic.twitter.com/G5e7s6toWW
An attorney representing the gym owners said they were issued a summons from the county for disorderly conduct and patrons inside the establishment were given formal warnings, but the business plans to reopen again on Tuesday.
As citizens grow increasingly frustrated with coronavirus lockdown orders in place across the US, police in some states have begun seriously easing-off enforcing the rules.
Officer Greg Anderson was put on administrative leave after posting a video to social media that went viral in which he encouraged law enforcement officers not to punish people for breaking social distancing guidelines.
“I’m seeing people arrested or cited for going to church, for traveling on the roadways, for going surfing, opening their businesses,” he said. “I want to remind you that regardless of where you stand on the coronavirus, we don’t have the authority to do those things to people just because a mayor or a governor tells you otherwise.”
Many officers out there are trampling on people’s liberties. Ask yourself are you doing the right thing? #police #lawenforcement #quarantine #civilliberties #constitution #freedom #america @unclesamsmisguidedchildren @john_tiegen @johnburk1 @realrudyreyes @dancrenshawtx @joerogan @jockowillink @certifiedhealthnut
In a lengthy message posted on Facebook on Sunday, Sheriff of DuPage County in Illinois, James Mendrick, said he was being silenced by public officials for speaking out against lockdown orders. He claims threats have been made regarding his office’s “reimbursement and grant funds as a tool to force me not to speak,” adding that his constitutional right to free speech “has been completely trampled on” by the governor.
Mendrick declared he stands with citizens and businesses that responsibly reopen and offer no “resistance” to police.
Former police officer Jordan Duncan of Lodi, California, claimed he was booted from the force after refusing to shut down businesses reopening in defiance of orders by California’s governor.
“Officer Duncan sacrificed his own livelihood instead of ruining the lives of civilians and small business owners and shutting down churches with the enforcement he would be required to execute under orders from his superiors,” a GoFundMe page for the ex-cop reads.
Some of the most extreme Covid-19 lockdown measures in the US can be found in Michigan, and have not only led to protests, but also to police departments officially refusing to enforce Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s orders.
“I have decided, within my authority, that our office cannot and will not divert our primary resources and efforts towards enforcement of the Gov. Whitmer’s executive orders,” Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole said in a public letter.
Other sheriffs also stepped forward to push back against Whitmer and claim she’d overstepped the power of her office.
Despite the growing refusal among some police to enforce Covid-19 orders, several videos of Covid-related arrests have gone viral and found critics accusing police departments across the US of being overzealous in their efforts. Last month, a man was dragged off of a public transit bus by multiple officers from the Philadelphia Police Department for refusing to wear a mask. Several of the officers were also not wearing masks.
throwing off riders for not having masks. Are masks a requirement for riders? this dude’s not wearing one pic.twitter.com/2IXtnI5dkO
New York City was also put under the spotlight after a video of multiple people being arrested for breaking social distancing rules went viral. The NYPD were criticized for what appeared to be excessive force, and at least one officer involved in the arrest was suspended from duty pending an investigation.
IS THIS #NYPD BRUTALITY OR NOT? We report, you decide. This happened on Ave D and 9th St, in the #LowerEastSide of #Manhattan on Saturday – @NYCMayor@NYPDnewspic.twitter.com/0pTDTat17S
New York has since said police will focus more on breaking up large crowds and will not ticket people for lacking face protection, though NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio promised on Monday that as the city reopens, officers will continue to have an active role in enforcing guidelines.
On beaches partially reopening, the mayor vowed police would monitor the seaside areas – and forcibly remove anyone gathered in a crowd or taking a swim.
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