RED HOOK, Brooklyn — A video of NYPD officers removing a table of masks and other materials from a Brooklyn polling site is causing controversy on social media, but police say they were following election laws.
City Councilman Carlos Menchaca tweeted the video on Saturday, claiming officers confronted community activists outside of an early polling site in Red Hook and then seized the PPE and materials.
On the first day of early voting in Red Hook, @NYPD76Pct officers confronted community activists handing out PPE in front of an early polling site & then seized it. This is unacceptable, the NYPD must issue clear guidelines & not escalate situations at the polls. pic.twitter.com/vcB5Am9IXa— Carlos Menchaca 萬齊家 (@NYCCouncil38) October 24, 2020
“This is unacceptable, the NYPD must issue clear guidelines and not escalate situations at the polls,” Menchaca tweeted. “There must be accountability. We are one city, and there should be peaceful responses by the NYPD. Anything short[er] than that could lead to voter suppression.”
Many critics on Twitter accused the NYPD of handling the situation poorly.
However, police say they were acting at the request of election officials and that the officers repeatedly asked the activists to move their table to comply with election rules.
“After refusing to comply their property was removed. Upon further discussion, they agreed to relocate to an appropriate area, and their property was returned,” the NYPD said.
New York State law prohibits electioneering, or the promotion of an election campaign, within a 100-foot radius of a polling site. The video shows flyers and papers on the table along with the masks, however, it was not clear whether the group was supporting a political campaign at the time.
At the request of election officials, officers asked these individuals repeatedly to comply with election rules. After refusing to comply their property was removed.— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) October 24, 2020
Upon further discussion, they agreed to relocate to an appropriate area, and their property was returned. https://t.co/8kcXpZzsEh