New Yorkers hopped the turnstiles at the crowded Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station in Brooklyn on Friday night to protest recent incidents of police violence and a crackdown on fare evasion throughout the city.
“No NYPD on the MTA!” Protesters did a mass fare evasion & took over a subway station during the #FTP march in Brooklyn earlier tonite. Protesters demanded free public transportation & an end to NYPD violence against Black & Brown people, especially Black youth. #SwipeItForward pic.twitter.com/yXp0EOQcX0
— Ash J (@AshAgony) November 2, 2019
The protest was organized by Decolonize This Place, an advocacy group that organizes action-based movements to support the indigenous struggle, Black liberation, free Palestine, global wage workers and de-gentrification. According to Gothamist, protesters met at Barclays Center around 5 p.m. Friday before they made their way to the subway station and hopped the turnstiles to evade the $2.75 fare chanting, “How do you spell racist? N-Y-P-D.”
More protesters hopping the turnstile pic.twitter.com/wuBysvYKk5
— Elad Eliahu (@elaadeliahu) November 2, 2019
The action was a response to the MTA’s efforts to curb fare evasion. In June, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the hiring of 500 new NYPD officers to be stationed in subway stations to stop fare evaders.
The increased number of cops in the subways has evidently led to more chaos. Last week, two videos showed NYPD officers abusing force in the stations against young men of color. In one Brooklyn incident, 19-year-old Adrian Napier, who is Black, was reported to be in possession of a weapon. Police officers chased him into the Pacific Street subway station, where he hopped a turnstile and boarded a train. When police caught up, an officer was caught on video aiming a gun at Napier through the window of a crowded subway train while commuters fearfully parted to either end of the car. Napier did not resist arrest and did not have a weapon on him. He was arrested and charged only with fare evasion.
How many goddam cops does it take to arrest a man who isn't resisting? Why did he have to be manhandled? I thought there was a shortage of recruits in NYC. If you ask me, you got TOO many officers as it is if that many got nothing better to do than take down ONE PERSON. SMDH.
— Christy B I'm fine. It's fine. Everything's FINE. (@BirlingChristy) October 26, 2019
The second video shows an NYPD officer punching two Black teenagers in the face while trying to break up a fight. One of the teens is now suing the city and the police department.
— Yoli Ouiya (@yoliouiya) October 26, 2019
In his argument for cracking down on fare evasion, Cuomo said fare beaters were costing the MTA $240 million each year, but many are arguing public transportation throughout the city should be free. Those against the increased police presence say New York officials are inciting a war on poor people of color in the city and veiling it as a fight against fare evasion.
There have also been debates on whether subway officers should be required to wear body cameras. MTA officers stationed in subways are not required to wear body cameras like city officers on the street are. However, Queens State Sen. Jessica Ramos introduced a bill in October that would require them to wear body cameras that record video and audio.
In light of the recent videos of officer aggression, Cuomo and transit officials have agreed.
Napier and his mother reportedly were among those at Friday’s protest. Amin Husain, an organizer with Decolonize This Place, told Gothamist the young man was “forever transformed” by the arrest.
The protest was peaceful, but one person was arrested for graffiti and another issued a summons for spitting on a police officer, according to the NYPD.