Brooklyn resident Carlos Calzadilla says that a police officer threatened him with arrest on Election Day for standing too close to a Bushwick polling place while wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt.

Calzadilla, 23, a constituent-relations staffer for State Senator Julia Salazar, wasn’t on the job on Election Day. He had just voted, and was meeting some friends to pick up some fliers opposed to the North Brooklyn Pipeline.

“I had just said hello, we were standing on the sidewalk, when this cop starts harassing us,” Calzadilla said. “I was wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt. He said my shirt was a political statement, and he threatened me with arrest if I didn’t move 100 feet back from the polling place.”

Calzadilla, who captured video on his phone documenting the later parts of the interaction, said the encounter left him rattled.

“It was a scary moment,” he said. “I wasn’t wearing or saying anything in favor of any candidate or any issue on the ballot. It was just this one police officer enforcing his personal political views.”

The specter of New York police officers inappropriately bringing their political views to work has raised concerns this election season, with the NYPD’s largest police union endorsing Donald Trump and an NYPD officer using his patrol car’s loudspeaker to call for the President’s reelection. Activists have also noted an evident discrepancy in how police handle demonstrations by Trump partisans compared to their treatment of the movement for Black lives.

New York law prohibits electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place, but the language of the law is disconcertingly vague. It prohibits “electioneering within the polling place, or in any public street, within a 100-foot radial,” and says “no political banner, button, poster or placard” will be allowed in that area. But just what constitutes “electioneering” or qualifies as a “political” message is unclear, says Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York.

The New York State Board of Elections issued some guidance before the election, telling local officials that items that don’t explicitly endorse a candidate – including MAGA hats and Black Lives Matter statements – are not prohibited.

Nonetheless, Lerner said, “There’s no uniformity in how poll sites apply the rule, if they apply them at all. It’s a case-by-case determination, made by people on the site, sometimes by police.”

Lerner said that Common Cause’s voting hotline received multiple calls this election cycle from people complaining that they were turned away from polling places for wearing either Black Lives Matter clothing or MAGA hats. “But then we also received calls from people complaining that people with MAGA hats were being allowed into the polling places,” she said.

In other instances, Lerner said, Common Cause’s own election observers were tossed out of polling places over the suggestion that their presence constituted electioneering.

“It’s a difficult issue,” Lerner said. “What we need is a strong clear statement from the state Board of Elections.”

Calzadilla said he has filed a complaint over the incident with the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

"Black Lives Matter is not considered electioneering," Valerie Vazquez-Diaz, a spokesperson for the Board of Elections, wrote in an email.

The NYPD did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"The law is clear that voters can dress and express themselves however they like at polling stations so long as they are not displaying campaign or candidate materials, or interfering with voting by harassing or intimidating voters outside a polling place,” said the NYCLU’s deputy policy director, Erika Lorshbough, in a statement. “Black Lives Matter is not an electoral message or a campaign issue, it's a fact. New Yorkers have a right to vote free from intimidation or harassment, and an officer improperly threatening arrest at a polling site is completely inappropriate."