Four Oaxaca police officers in a municipality most recently known for coronavirus czar Hugo López Gatell’s vacationing there without a mask have been suspended after they were accused of violently enforcing the local mask law.
A two-minute video captured the four San Pedro Pochutla municipal police officers attempting to arrest a young couple in the downtown area, physically restraining them while they resisted.
Local officials said they had suspended the officers because they had not behaved “in an empathetic manner with citizens.”
“While the use of masks is obligatory, the agents in charge of enforcing this measure should act first by example and understand that in the Covid-19 epidemic, the battle is against the virus, not against ourselves,” officials said in a statement.
Pochutla is where Zipolite Beach is located, where Deputy Health Minister López Gatell was photographed without a mask in December.
— El Universal Oaxaca (@ElUniversalOax) March 4, 2021
Witnesses who saw the incident told the newspaper El Universal that they thought the police overreacted. One told the newspaper that the couple were warned about not wearing masks and were on their way to a pharmacy to buy them, but the officers came along and proceeded to detain them.
Another witness said the couple claimed to have just arrived in the city.
“There are communities in [the area] where there is no internet or radio and they’re not informed about the fine that the municipal government has imposed,” said one witness.
Due to concern about rising numbers of cases, the municipality went to maximum-risk red on the coronavirus stoplight system on February 15 until March 15, even though the state of Oaxaca is currently at high-risk orange, which is one level below.
According to state figures, San Pedro Pochutla had an accumulated Covid case tally of 209 as of Wednesday, with five currently active cases and 17 deaths in total.
Source: El Universal (sp)