A viral video shows Philadelphia police on Friday forcibly removing an individual, who was ordered to leave a bus for not wearing a mask, from public transportation who was ordered to leave a bus for not wearing a mask.
The unidentified man was carried off of a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, SEPTA, bus after refusing to vacate the vehicle as requested by the bus driver, as reported by local news station WCAU-TV.
The incident was captured by a bystander and circulated on Facebook.
After the unidentified man refused the SEPTA driver’s request for him to unboard, police got involved and attempted to pull him off by his legs. Eventually, he was released and was not cited or arrested. One of the fellow riders was heard saying “thank you” to the officers.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has urged residents to wear masks when venturing outside during the COVID-19 pandemic. SEPTA also issued a policy that riders wear masks when using the transit system as a method to protect operators and fellow riders.
Following the incident, SEPTA issued a statement saying they would no longer be enforcing the mask policy.
“While SEPTA urges riders to cover their faces, those who refuse will not be barred entry to the system,” the SEPTA statement read, as reported by the Philadelphia news station.
Philadelphia city officials said in a press briefing that they support SEPTA transit operators.
“When a bus driver says he’s kicked somebody off for any reason, our officers are going to support SEPTA in that effort,” Philadelphia City Managing Director Brian Abernathy said Friday. “Especially given some of the challenges SEPTA has faced during this crisis.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, who also praised bus drivers as “front-line, boots-on-the-ground heroes,” understands that panic that COVID-19 is eliciting during this time.
“We are in strange times, and people are reacting in strange ways,” he said.