Everyone Must Wear a Mask – No One Can Wear a Mask


Your Criminal Justice System at Work

I remember one of my first protest details with the NYPD. I believe it was in 1998, shortly after the death of Matthew Sheppard, a gay man murdered in Wyoming. Like many causes around the world, the outrage played out on the streets of New York City. One of the bosses at the protest detail advised us that the demonstrators were not allowed to wear masks in groups of three or more. That was news to me – and a bit of a surprise. I had never heard of that law.

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It was part of the loitering statute, New York State Penal Law 140.35(4) and it stated:

Being masked or in any manner disguised by unusual or unnatural attire or facial alteration, loiters, remains or congregates in a public place with other persons so masked or disguised, or knowingly permits or aids persons so masked or disguised to congregate in a public place; except that such conduct is not unlawful when it occurs in connection with a masquerade party or like entertainment if, when such entertainment is held in a city which has promulgated regulations in connection with such affairs, permission is first obtained from the police or other appropriate authorities.

It was just a violation – you could give a summons if the individual complied with removal and had ID. Not a big deal, but a nice tool to have if some people in the crowd were inciting violence or causing trouble.

The law was removed in 2020 when the government who didn’t want people to wear masks decided to require that EVERYONE had to wear a mask. In May of 2020 NYS Attorney General Letitia James made a push to get rid of the law. She wanted everyone to mask up and was willing to go after those who didn’t. Not wearing a mask (or not getting the vax) was tantamount to murder, and New York State made sure you had it on.

The old mask prohibition interfered with the state’s new mask mandate. (Remember when NYPD cops were forced to fight people in the subway because they refused to wear a mask?) Besides, laws that punished people who wore masks were racist, and “exposes men of color to police harassment” according to Assemblyman Dan Quart. State Senator Jamaal Baily called the law “outdated”. The law was repealed three days after the death of George Floyd – just in time for the riots. How convenient.

Years later masks are still prolific. Detectives have been solving less cases since 2020 due to masks. Anyone planning on committing a crime masks up well before the offense, making identifications next to impossible.

The almost non-stop state of protests and riots have shown another use for the ubiquitous masks. Anonymity for racist rants, unpunished attacks on cops, and avoiding blowback from polite society. The repeal of this law has been giving the cops fits for years. Another unintended consequence of COVID dictates.

Now the very same politicians who got rid of this mask law are now pushing for its return. Letitia James, perhaps forgetting that she got rid of the “outdated” law four years ago, is publicly advocating for its return. Now they are concerned with hate speech. A valid concern but ask any cop about the hate speech they have been hearing every day since 2020.

Another mass flip flop by politicians. Another set of laws with unintended consequences. Perhaps they should speak to District Attorneys around the state before they start writing this one. We can’t see Alvin Bragg ever prosecuting a violation of this new law.

Just to put a point on New York State’s Orwellian narrative:

  • In 2019, the state barred you from wearing a mask;

  • In 2020 the state required you to wear a mask;

  • And soon in 2024 the state will again bar you from wearing a mask.

Maybe they should have just left the issue alone instead of fixing something that wasn’t broken. New Yorkers really have to keep current on the state of the penal law, lest you take a collar. Who knows what the nitwit brigade in Albany will do next.

Thanks for reading The Ops Desk. Stay Safe!


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