A viral video Friday captured Philadelphia police forcing a man who wasn’t wearing a mask off a SEPTA bus. The video was posted by the Philly Transit Riders Union.
Twitter user @werlibertarians commented, “Not even a week ago, the CDC was saying masks weren’t effective. Now the Philadelphia police are willing to assault (and potentially kill) a man for not wearing one. It’s less about public health and more about obedience.”
After the video was posted, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf acknowledged that there is actually no law requiring passengers to wear masks, and thus no basis for police to use force on people for not wearing them, but strongly urged residents to wear masks in public.
The Philly Transit Riders Union posted a statement stating the Philadelphia Police, “response indicates that harassment and profiling will be used to determine who is allowed to use public transit and who is considered ‘essential,'” and stated that “cops should hand out masks and not assault transit riders” for not having access to masks.
The physical assault on transit riders by police comes at a time when, according to The Atlantic, “Masks are now so hard to find that health-care workers are reusing theirs multiple days in a row. Grocery-store workers, who are at high risk of contracting the virus, have been denied masks for months. Everyday people are making their own out of fabric scraps.”