Philadelphia Cops Drag Man Off Of Bus Over Confrontation Stemming From Him Not Wearing A Face Mask
Authorities say he was forcibly removed from the bus because he was acting unruly.
April 13, 2020 at 5:17 pm
Philadelphia transit officials have now changed their policy requiring passengers to wear a face mask after a video of a man being dragged off a bus prompted backlash.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) issued a policy mandating all riders wear a sort of facial covering in order to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and ensure everyone’s safety, reports ABC News.
"SEPTA is now asking all riders to wear masks or other facial coverings, consistent with new CDC guidelines, to protect both riders and operators,” the policy, issued April 7, read.
On April 3, the CDC issued new guidelines recommending that people wear cloth face coverings in public.
In accordance with SEPTA’s newly instated rules, operators had a right to refuse service to any passengers not wearing a mask.
“We’re going to enforce. Not only can an operator of a vehicle refuse a rider that does not have a mask on, we will also have members of our transit police making sure.” SEPTA general manager Leslie Richards said Tuesday, according to CBS 3 Philly.
A video shows a man, who was not wearing a facial covering, being forcibly removed from the bus by four officers, with many more looking on. The man is seen holding on to bus railings while officers are pulling at his legs and arms while he is shouting expletives.
Before the man was dragged off the bus, an official boarded and told everyone without a facial covering they needed to exit or they would be removed, CBS 3 Philly reported.
According to a statement issued by the Philadelphia Police Department, the bus driver requested the man be removed because he was being disorderly.
"A Septa bus driver requested that an unruly passenger leave the bus several times, and the passenger repeatedly refused," the statement read. "PPD Officers arrived on location, and after being made aware of the driver's request, also ordered the male to leave the bus several times. The male again refused, at which point he was physically removed by the officers."
“Police were not responding to the social distancing complaint, police were responding to the fact the person was asked to leave the bus and refused,” Philadelphia managing director Brian Abernathy said in a press conference on Friday.
The video resulted in backlash on social media.
do riders know that they might be pulled off a SEPTA bus by 10 cops for not having a mask? pic.twitter.com/NnHXJC02E8
— Philly Transit Riders Union (@phillyTRU) April 10, 2020
In a non-psychopathic country the cops would just hand out masks to people who don’t have one https://t.co/4eE2ndxcSj
— ???????????????????? ???????????? ???? (@breadcardigan) April 10, 2020
Here’s a guy getting pulled by his legs off a bus because he tried to ride public transit without a mask. This is the kind of madness that will start the riots.
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) April 10, 2020
Philly police had two options- use 10 cops to violently remove a man from a bus or give him a fucking mask that would cost .60 cents. Disgusting abuse of power https://t.co/KqEFhCraAH
— fiona (@fionatags) April 10, 2020
Following the incident, SEPTA issued a statement on Saturday saying it will no longer require riders to wear a face mask, but it is still highly recommended.
"SEPTA’s main concern is the health and safety of our customers and employees," the statement read. "To that end, on April 9 SEPTA started requiring customers to wear facial coverings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. That policy will no longer be enforced. While SEPTA urges riders to cover their faces, those who refuse will not be barred entry to the system."
Although Mayor Jim Kenney had not seen the video, he said he was OK with the passenger being removed.
“We’re in strange times and people are reacting in strange ways but I don’t blame the bus driver,” Kenney said.
The incident is still under investigation.