NYPD Arrested an Essential Delivery Worker After Curfew

Essential worker status didn't stop the man from being detained by police on video while delivering food for DoorDash-owned Caviar.
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A pair of videos, seemingly taken from different angles and uploaded to social media on Thursday night, appear to show a delivery worker being arrested by a group of NYPD officers while on the job after curfew in New York City. Delivery workers are supposed to have essential status that exempts them from curfew.

In a video posted at 9:01 p.m., the man, who appears to be Black, can be heard sounding extremely distressed, saying, "Look, look, look, I'm not even doing anything!" And, "It tells me on the app that I can show you guys something. It tells me [to show] you guys, and you can't arrest me." Another video, posted at 9:04 p.m., shows officers closing the back doors of a police van while a bicycle and an orange Caviar delivery bag lie on the ground next to it.


It was initially unclear if the videos showed one arrest or two, but a statement by police seemed to indicate one arrest. NYPD told The Verge that “police detained the male, verified his credentials and he was released.”

As Motherboard reported earlier this week, delivery workers have been talking amongst themselves online about the relative dangers (and rewards) of working after curfew while police inflict indiscriminate force on the public during protests against police brutality and the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

When Motherboard reached Uber, Postmates, and DoorDash (which owns Caviar), for comment on their curfew policies earlier this week, every company said that they were listening to local guidance on curfews. In practice, this meant that Postmates in LA, for example, pushed a notification to workers that said it was operating as an essential service after curfew and another that offered a $1 bonus.

On Twitter, Caviar said its "courier app includes information about local laws and regulations" and added it is "prepared to provide our community with our support."

In a statement, DoorDash reiterated its previous comment to Motherboard regarding its curfew policies and said it was prepared to offer support to drivers. "We are alarmed by reports that a courier appears to have been arrested this evening in New York City shortly after curfew," the statement said. "Under the City’s curfew order, food delivery workers are deemed “essential” and permitted to travel to and from work and to be in public while performing their work while the curfew is in effect. We are gathering information and are in contact with City officials to determine what transpired. Essential workers must be able to complete their work and feel safe and secure while doing so, and we are prepared to provide them with our support."


Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has so far condoned the police's violence against the residents of his city and even applauded their so-called "restraint," called the video "troubling" in a tweet. "This is NOT acceptable and must stop. Food delivery is essential work and is EXEMPTED from the curfew," the mayor tweeted, adding that such protected essential work includes journalism.

When reached for comment about the videos, Uber pledged legal support to any drivers arrested by the NYPD while doing their jobs.

"During the last several months, delivery people have been critical to keeping New York City going," An Uber spokesperson said in a statement. "None of these essential workers should now have to fear that they will be arrested simply for trying to work, especially when the City Government has asked them to continue delivering food to New Yorkers during the curfew. This morning we called the NYPD and the Mayor’s Office to ask that all police officers be reminded that delivering food has been deemed an essential service and that all Uber Eats delivery workers are exempt from the curfew. Uber will offer legal support to Eats delivery people if they are wrongly arrested for violating the curfew while delivering on the app and aggressively petition City Hall and the NYPD on their behalf.”

Motherboard reached Postmates for comment on worker safety in light of the videos, but we have not received a response.

As the protests have marched on, police have committed numerous unconscionable acts on camera, including brutalizing people in supposedly protected worker categories such as journalists. There was never any reason to expect that other essential workers, such as delivery workers (studies have shown the majority of whom are people of color), would be treated differently as police rampage with clear disregard for people's safety.

Update: This story was updated with comment from DoorDash and UberEats.