After a tone-deaf tweet from the New York Police Department about a small-time weed bust, the department received immediate backlash.

On May 2, @NYPD Transit wrote: “Some people may disagree – but transporting ziplock bags of marijuana & a digital scale in your backpack does not make you an essential traveler in the eyes of the Transit police. Hopping a turnstile while doing so didn’t help either. Nice grab by our District 1 team!”

The tweet also featured a photo of the District 1 team, posing like the squad in a cop show. The online derision was fierce. Critics pointed out that officers had broken social distancing guidelines, made an unnecessary arrest for a substance which was decriminalizedlast year, and that one of the officers pictured was wearing their face mask below their nose, which defeats the purpose of wearing a mask in the first place.

“So no gloves, improperly worn masks, no social distancing. Good work continuing to spread a deadly virus to combat…a decriminalized drug that the DA’s office will decline to prosecute!” one user wrote, as reported by Indy100.

“did they maintain 6 ft separation when ‘grabbing’ the guy or did they put a bunch of lives at risk for the sake of some weed” askedThe New Yorker contributor Anna Fitzpatrick.

Other comments included:

“How much resources were employed – in the middle of a Pandemic – to nab someone who “stole” a $3 subway ride and was transporting assets tht hve already been decriminalized in ur jurisdiction?”

“You people are heartless monsters to be bragging about busting someone with marijuana during this stressful and very real health crisis. You should be bragging about serving the public, e.g., handing out masks.”

The NYPD has also received intense scrutinyover its arrests for violating social distancing guidelines. Data released by the Brooklyn district attorney showed that, as of May 4, 40 people had been arrested in New York boroughs for breaking the new regulations, and that only one of these people were white.

Photo via Flickr/sbamueller

Natalie