A white middle-aged couple claimed they were victims of discrimination after they were handcuffed and removed from a New York City ferry for refusing to wear masks.
Video recorded by Gothamist reporter Jake Offenhartz showed the man and woman arguing with ferry workers on the boat’s top deck after it docked in Brooklyn Bridge Park at around 8pm on Saturday and the captain ordered them to disembark because they didn’t have face coverings.
They continued to defend themselves for 45 minutes when two NYPD officers arrived to haul them off – while fellow passengers shouted at them to leave so the boat could continue on its way.
The woman, who said she and her husband were returning to their home in Bay Ridge from a night out in Manhattan and urged a bystander to film the incident – told Gothamist: ‘I’m just so fed up.
‘This has been going on since March, and my husband is f**king pissed off. Every time I have to commute to Manhattan, it’s a f**king process.
‘If we were f**king black, I can guarantee you that guy’ – the captain – ‘would never come out and tell us put a mask on.’
Her husband, who identified himself as David, chimed in: ‘Right, because Black Lives Matter.’
The couple claimed that they had a constitutional right to ride the ferry without masks, and that they both suffered from a medical condition exempting them from Gov Andrew Cuomo’s mandate to slow the spread of coronavirus.
‘These people are just doing what the government is telling them,’ the woman said of the masked riders on the boat in one video from the encounter.
They presented their case to responding NYPD officers, accusing the captain of ‘targeting’ and ‘shaming’ them.
‘Because we can’t wear a mask, we’re being discriminated against,’ the man says in a video.
One of the officers sought to de-escalate the situation by asking for proof of the couple’s supposed medical issues, but they declined to present any.
The other officer then determined that the captain did have the power to remove passengers deemed unruly and offered the couple one last chance to leave voluntarily.
When they refused to do so, the couple were placed in handcuffs and escorted off the boat while cheers and applause erupted among fellow passengers, with many shouting: ‘Thank you, NYPD!’
The man and woman were each slapped with a summons for disorderly conduct, according to Gothamist.
The couple are reportedly planning to sue NYC Ferry for violating their constitutional rights by kicking them off the boat because they didn’t have masks (file photo)
The woman told the outlet that she and her husband have already sued the Metropolitan Transit Authority after a similar incident when he rode maskless on a city bus.
She said that they will likely file another lawsuit against NYC Ferry after Saturday night’s confrontation.
As the cops escorted the couple off the pier, David ranted about why the NYPD wasn’t more focused on ‘homeless drug addicts and looters’.
‘Can one of you guys give us a ride home please? We feel so good about the NYPD,’ he said, Gothamist reported.
The cops told the couple that that was against the rules, at which point they were placed in the back of a police van.
‘I understand your frustration,’ one of the officers told them.
Another officer at the scene told Gothamist: ‘Mostly everyone complies [with the mask mandate], and then you get a few knuckleheads who don’t.’