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No masks standoff: Brooklyn couple handcuffed, removed from NYC ferry

Posted at 5:09 PM, Sep 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-06 17:09:50-04

BROOKLYN — Police handcuffed a Brooklyn couple and removed them from an NYC Ferry after a tense standoff Saturday night over the couple's refusal to wear masks.

The husband and wife from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn rode the boat from Manhattan to Brooklyn Saturday night. When the ferry arrived at Brooklyn Bridge Park, the captain made an announcement.

"He would not be continuing on the route until they either put masks on or got off," Jake Offenhartz, a reporter for Gothamist and WNYC said.

Offenhartz was riding the ferry around 8 p.m. when he noticed what was going on and he started to record on his phone.

"There was some finger pointing and some harsh words exchanged," he said.

According to NYC Ferry, the couple became verbally abusive to the crew and fellow passengers. That's when the boat's captain called police.

"They both claimed they had medical conditions which they didn't want to disclose what they were, but they couldn't wear masks and also mentioned people who did wear masks were following whatever the government told them to do," Offenhartz said.

His video showed the couple talking to police.

"We paid for tickets," the man, who only identified himself as David, said. "They let us on. They are holding you up. Not us."

Angry passengers can be heard in the background.

"Kick them off the boat! We gotta go," one yelled.

Soon, police started to handcuff the man and he began to resist. But that ended quickly and the couple was taken off the boat peacefully.

NYC Ferry's mask rule is posted before passengers board and announcements are made at boarding sites as well.

"And I think that's how it should be because this pandemic is not over and you can see what's happening in other states and people that are refusing to wear masks are just making it harder for everyone," ferry rider Tariq Kaadan said.

A representative of NYC Ferry said they would continue to investigate the incident.

"The safety of our riders and crew is our number one priority," the representative said. "We sincerely thank the NYPD for their rapid response to last night’s incident and we greatly appreciate the professionalism of our crew along with the patience of our riders."

Jake Offenhartz, the reporter that witnessed the incident, said the couple also told him they were being targeted because they are white.

"They said to me that if they were Black, this wouldn't have happened because people are so obsessed with Black Lives Matter," he said.

The NYPD said the husband and wife were issued summonses for disorderly conduct. Police did not release their names.