A New York City police officer was quickly suspended without pay Sunday after he was videotaped apparently blaring “Trump 2020” from his patrol car loudspeaker in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Brooklyn.
The incident occurred Saturday, the first day of early voting in the city.
“The police officer who is under investigation for using a department vehicle’s loudspeaker for political purposes has been suspended, effective immediately,” the New York Police Department said on its official NYPD News Twitter account.
The department launched an investigation into the incident with a warning that “police officers must remain apolitical.”
Neighbors filmed the unidentified officer blaring “Trump 2020” Saturday night as he patrolled the streets of Flatbush. One video showed the officer stopping his patrol car at a crosswalk with lights flashing. He appeared to taunt a pedestrian: “Trump 2020. Put it on YouTube. Put it on Facebook. Trump 2020. Take a picture. Take a picture. Take a video.”
One passer-by was videotaped taunting the officer in return, calling him a “fucking fascist.”
Brandon Hines, a resident, posted video on Twitter and said, “How the NYPD rolling up in Black Communities these day (on my block) … BI-DEN.”
Hines said he and his roommate looked down from their apartment when he heard voices outside. “It wasn’t even about the ‘Trump 2020’ at that point,” he told NBC News. “I just went to make sure that person [talking] had another pair of eyes on them to make sure they’re safe.”
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea called the incident “one hundred percent unacceptable.” Law enforcement officers “must remain apolitical,” he added. “It is essential in our role to serve ALL New Yorkers regardless of any political beliefs,” Shea tweeted.
New Yorkers responding to NYPD tweets about the incident on Twitter expressed fears about safety at polling stations.
A post on Streetsblog NYC last week questioned whether police could be trusted to remain neutral politically to keep the peace during voting in light of the union endorsement.
The union called such concerns “hysterical nonsense.”