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Brooklyn DA Opens Probe Into Apparent Racial Disparities In Enforcement Of Coronavirus Social Distancing

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - The Brooklyn district attorney has opened a probe into allegations of excessive force in the arrest of people accused of not social distancing.

One viral video shows police restraining a 15-year-old in East New York last weekend. He was allegedly part of a group of four not maintaining social distancing, reported CBS2's Marcia Kramer.

The arrest of one of the three is now being probed by Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez to see if the cops involved should be disciplined or face federal charges.

The teen's family held a press conference outside the 75th Precinct on Wednesday afternoon.

"No one understands the feeling I had getting that video of my son being hit on the ground, already detained," said Angelina Cajigas, the teen's mother.

"Not wearing a mask is a civil infraction, should never get to a point where someone is brutalized and beaten down," community activist Chris Banks said.


The DA said police should limit enforcement to handing out masks and sanitizer.

"We cannot police ourselves out of this pandemic. Instead, we need to give people the knowledge and the ability to keep people safe," Gonzalez said.

"I demand an apology and I demand these officers be fired and prosecuted," said Chivona Newsome, with Black Lives Matter. "Do your job, Mayor de Blasio, and handle this."

Watch Ali Bauman's report --

The DA's actions come as a number of videos have surfaced. One took place on the Lower East Side. In that case, police officer Francisco Garcia was placed on administrative duty for aggressively enforcing social distancing.

The video is putting pressure on the mayor and the NYPD to answer charges the cops have been more aggressive in communities of color.

Kramer asked the mayor about charges from public officials that "the NYPD enforcement of social distancing has shown racial disparities, that the enforcement has been subjective and selective?"

"I understand the concern, 100%. I want to see fair and equal policing everywhere," de Blasio said. "The message to the NYPD is be consistent across all communities."

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The mayor told Kramer there would be new guidelines issued to the cops, but there was no word on when.

"Police have to get out of the business of social distancing policing," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. "They don't hand out handcuffs at Chelsea Piers, but they do in Brownsville."

Adams and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams have been demanding the NYPD release summons and arrest data by zipcode and community. Wednesday, they upped the ante, joining public officials across the country in calling on the federal Department of Justice to mount a civil rights investigation into racial disparities in the response to COVID-19. Not just social distancing, but unequal access to health care, testing, protective gear and even small business loans.

"In New York City, we have the worst coronavirus response on the planet," Williams said.

"The disparities have been shameful," said City Councilwoman Adrienne Adams.

Adam is also demanding that there should be racial equality when it comes to decisions about closing streets so residents can get out of their apartments.

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