Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have a lot of newfound power under the state of emergency in which we find ourselves. They do not have the power to override the U.S. Constitution.
Yet that is just what the mayor, and possibly the governor, have done in banning protests under the guise of protecting public health. Of course they can mandate that people wear face coverings and stand at least six feet apart, even outdoors. What they cannot do is arbitrarily order people who are wearing masks and socially distancing to disperse. But police are breaking up otherwise lawful protests in their name.
De Blasio admitted putting himself above the Constitution at a press event, advising people to make their point some other way. Cuomo, wiser than the mayor, has not done that to our knowledge, but must know the NYPD is telling people, “Gatherings of any kind have been prohibited by the governor and by the mayor.” Arrests have been made under these unconstitutional orders.
Legendary civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, long of the American Civil Liberties Union, is having none of it. He’s representing at least two of the people charged. He will win. The government cannot allow masked, socially distancing people to be out for one purpose, whatever it is, but not for protest. The First Amendment is not a plaything. This is a good time for Cuomo to issue a new order, recognizing our rights and denying de Blasio his overreach.