A Brooklyn couple was pulled from a city ferry in handcuffs on Saturday night after refusing the captain's order to wear a mask or leave the boat. The husband and wife, who were headed home to Bay Ridge after a night in Manhattan, each received a summons for disorderly conduct, according to an NYPD spokesperson.
For more than an hour on Saturday, the middle-aged duo stood defiantly on the top deck of an NYC Ferry, rejecting the captain's orders to disembark at Brooklyn Bridge Park around 8 p.m. They insisted they had a constitutional right to ride mask-free, claiming they both suffered from a medical condition exempting them from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s requirement that New Yorkers wear a face covering in public to stop the spread of coronavirus.
“These people are just doing what the government is telling them,” the woman said of the masked riders aboard the boat.
When the two police officers arrived, roughly 45 minutes after the ferry standoff started, the couple presented their case that the captain had unfairly singled them out.
"He's shaming us," said the man, who identified himself only as David (a police spokesperson declined to provide their full names)."Because we can't wear a mask, we're being discriminated against."
His wife went a step further, suggesting that they were specifically targeted because they are white. "If we were fucking Black, I can guarantee you that guy would never come out and tell us put a mask on," she huffed to a Gothamist reporter.
“Right, because Black Lives Matter,” the husband agreed.
One of the officers attempted to reason with the couple, asking to see evidence of their medical condition — something they declined to disclose. A second officer studied the back of a ferry ticket, reaching the conclusion that the captain has broad discretion to remove passengers deemed unruly.
The other ferry riders soon grew impatient, demanding the couple leave so they could get on with their evening. "Take them off the boat, we got to go home," one man yelled.
With no resolution in sight, the cops gave the couple one last chance to voluntarily leave the boat, before taking out the handcuffs; David briefly tried to resist arrest, but seemed to change his mind at the last moment. "Thank you NYPD," several people yelled. Other riders praised the captain for his handling of the encounter.
"I'm just so fed up, this has been going on since March, and my husband is fucking pissed off," the woman told Gothamist. "Every time I have to commute to Manhattan it's a fucking process."
David's wife said they were currently suing the MTA after receiving a similarly hostile reception while riding maskless on an express bus. They would now likely bring a lawsuit against the ferry company, she added.
Neither the city’s Economic Development Corporation nor Hornblower Cruises, which jointly operate the ferry system, responded to a request for comment.
As the cops walked the couple off the pier, David requested a cigarette — which the cops permitted — and lamented why the officers weren’t focused on the “homeless drug addicts and looters.”
“Can one of you guys give us a ride home please? We feel so good about the NYPD,” he added.
The cops explained it was against the rules, and eventually placed the husband and wife in the back of a police van.
“I understand your frustration,” one of the officers told them.
A spokesperson for the NYPD did not respond to questions about how many people have been arrested for refusing to wear masks or face-coverings in public.
“Mostly everyone complies,” said another officer at the scene. “And then you get a few knuckleheads who don’t.”