“Obviously, we do not advise individuals concerned about social distancing to take matters into their own hands and confront people about it, especially in any physical way,” police said in a statement to local media outlets.
The incident highlights how “quarantine shaming” — calling out people who are perceived as not doing their part to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus — can escalate quickly and even turn outright dangerous. As The Washington Post’s Meagan Flynn reported, an 86-year-old woman died last month after a confrontation at a Brooklyn hospital where a fellow patient accused her of standing too close and shoved her to the ground. Her assailant has since been charged with manslaughter.
The growing emphasis on regulating individual behavior has also raised concerns about police overreach. The New York Police Department has been criticized for arresting people who allegedly fail to maintain social distancing, and then throwing them in jail, where they have an increased likelihood of being exposed to the virus. Similarly, a Pennsylvania woman who went for a drive just to get out of the house was pulled over and given a $200 citation for violating the state’s stay-at-home order, raising a slew of civil liberties concerns.
On Tuesday, police in Brighton, Colo., issued a public apology to a man who was handcuffed in front of his 6-year-old daughter after being accused of violating social distancing guidelines. Matt Mooney told KDVR that he, his wife and daughter were playing T-ball when officers informed them the park was closed — an apparent misunderstanding, since groups of less than four people are allowed in to exercise. When Mooney refused to hand over his identification, he was placed into a squad car.
“It is evident there was an overreach by our police officers,” the Brighton Police Department said in a statement.
In Louisville, witnesses told WLKY and the Courier-Journal that nine teenagers had gathered by a lakefront amphitheater at dusk on Friday, defying officials’ recommendations to stay home and avoid congregating in groups. A couple walking through the affluent subdivision angrily approached them, cursing at the teens for failing to maintain six feet of separation.
“We’re leaving, let’s please not cuss at each other,” one girl can be heard saying as the 26-second video begins. The man mutters something about “this a------ right here,” then shoves two teens out of his way.
According to the Courier-Journal, the woman accompanying Rademaker had also started filming the confrontation, and one of the teens knocked the phone out of her hand. In the viral video, a white woman in green leggings can be seen grabbing at a young black girl, who appears to be the only person of color in the group and is lying on her back. “Give me my phone,” the older woman demands.
At that point, Rademaker storms in, pushing a third teenager out of the way. According to an arrest warrant obtained by WDRB, he put his hands around the 18-year-old victim’s neck and appeared to choke her as she lay on the ground. Within a matter of seconds, bystanders intervened and pulled the physician off the teen.
The 18-year-old had a red mark on her neck when emergency medical personnel arrived but did not require hospitalization, according to the warrant.
The video ignited a furor, with the Root referring to the incident as “#SocialDistancingWhileBlack.” On Sunday, a representative from Southern Indiana Anesthesia Consultants, where Rademaker works as a physician, said he had been placed on administrative leave. A profile page for Rademaker also vanished from the website for Baptist Health, a hospital network that contracts with the anesthesiology group, the Courier-Journal reported.
Baptist Health has multiple hospitals and clinics in the Louisville area, and 14 local employees had tested positive for covid-19 as of March 30, WAVE 3 News reported.
“For someone to lay their hands on a child, I don’t care who you are or what they did,” Chris Shinn, a resident of the upscale Norton Commons neighborhood where the confrontation took place, told WAVE 3 News. “We don’t need this here and it’s ridiculous.”
Rademaker, who is charged with one count of first-degree strangulation and three counts of harassment with physical contact, was released on his own recognizance on Tuesday, according to WDRB. Court records show is scheduled to be arraigned on May 8. He could not be reached for comment late Tuesday night.