It was only a matter of time before police started arresting black men for wearing masks in pubic – even though all they were doing is trying to comply with mandatory orders brought on by the coronavirus quarantine.
In Miami, a black doctor who had made headlines only weeks earlier for leading a group of volunteers to test homeless people for the virus was handcuffed by a Miami police officer for refusing to identify himself in front of his own home.
Doctor Armen Henderson was only released after calling out his wife’s name who then showed the cop his identification.
The cop, who has not been identified, was not wearing a face mask even though Miami-Dade County had issued an emergency order requiring all essential workers to wear masks. But cops are apparently exempt from that order which makes them even more dangerous than normal considering cops all over the country are being diagnosed with the virus.
The incident was caught on surveillance video but contains no audio.
“You should refer to me as sir or sergeant when talking to me,” the cop told the doctor according to his interview with the Miami Herald.
Henderson told the Miami Herald that on Friday morning, a Miami police officer told him he was patrolling the area after hearing reports that people were dumping trash.
After telling the officer he was just unloading his van and not showing his ID, Henderson was put in handcuffs
“He said, ‘You should refer to me as sir, or sergeant when talking to me.’ I never said I was a doctor. But I didn’t cuss. He just grabbed my arms and cuffed me,” Henderson said.
A video of the altercation shows Henderson taking items out of his van when a Miami police officer pulls up next to him. After a discussion, which cannot be heard on the video, the officer handcuffed Henderson.
The video does appear to be edited and skips when the officer gets out of his car. The Herald was not able to confirm whether it was edited or a lagging of the security camera.
On March 28, the Herald wrote about Henderson and dozens of volunteers roaming the streets of Miami with nasal swabs testing the homeless for COVID-19. Along with tests, they also gave out camping tents.
Henderson is not alone, according to the Washington Post.
Kip Diggs glanced at his reflection in the rearview mirror before heading into the grocery store: a baby-blue bandanna — matching his University of North Carolina baseball cap — masked his nose, mouth and salt-and-pepper beard.
The 53-year-old Nashville marketing consultant had chosen his face covering carefully for his trip to Kroger on Sunday, his first outing since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines advising Americans to cover their faces to slow the spread of covid-19.
“As an African American man, I have to be cognizant of the things I do and where I go, so appearances matter,” Diggs said. “I have pink, lime green, Carolina blue so I don’t look menacing. I want to take a lot of that stigma and risk out as best I can.”
A recent report of a police officer following young black men who wore masks while shopping has amplified fears among people of color of being profiled as criminals or gang members. Civil rights leaders, politicians and community activists worry that concerns of racial bias will discourage black people from wearing masks to protect themselves and others, further increasing their exposure to a virus that is disproportionately infecting and killing African Americans.
A recent study showed that black people are being infected with the virus at three times the rate of white people as well as six times the rate of deaths from the virus. The four main reasons for this disparity are as follows, according to the Washington Post.
- Higher rates of underlying health conditions, and less access to car
- Black Americans hold a lot of ‘essential’ jobs
- Insufficient information
- Housing disparities
But coming in at number five may probably boil down to black people not wearing masks to avoid being profiled.
The Miami Police Department issued a statement saying it does not tolerate profiling and will launch an investigation but history shows this is how they have operated for years.