Stand-off over face masks ends with couple forcibly removed from ferry, NYC police say

A “disorderly” couple was hauled off a New York City ferry in handcuffs Saturday after refusing to wear face masks, according to police.

Officers responded to Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park around 10 p.m. for reports of an unruly couple, the New York Police Department told McClatchy News in a statement. Their stand off with the captain of an NYC ferry began when the pair refused to disembark after being asked to leave for not wearing masks, the captain told police.

Authorities didn’t release the couple’s identity but described them as a 53-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman.

Much of the incident, which lasted more than 45 minutes, was captured by WNYC and Gothamist reporter Jake Offenhartz.

“There was some finger pointing and some harsh words exchanged,” Offenhartz told PIX 11.

Balking at the captain’s order, the couple argued they “had a constitutional right” to ride the ferry mask free and claimed medical conditions exempted them from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s rules requiring New Yorkers to wear a face covering in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Gothamist reported.

In one video, the woman argued that she and her husband were being shamed and “discriminated” against by the ferry captain.

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“If we were (expletive) Black, I can guarantee you that guy would never come out and tell us put a mask on,” she said, according to Gothamist.

“Right, because Black Lives Matter,” her husband agreed.

Both were eventually handcuffed and escorted off the boat as fellow passengers clapped and cheered, according to the New York Post. Both were cited for disorderly conduct and violating an emergency measure issued by the mayor, police said.

A representative for the NYC Ferry said the incident is under investigation, the New York Post reported.

“The safety of our riders and crew is our number one priority,” the representative told the newspaper. “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.”

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