Hundreds of straphangers took to the streets of Downtown Brooklyn on Friday to protest a Metropolitan Transportation Authority scheme to crack down on fare evasion by hiring 500 new cops to police the subway.
One demonstrator slammed officials for squandering taxpayer money on a scheme that endangers and disenfranchises the poor, instead of making a sound investment in new transit infrastructure.
“They aren’t doing anything good for our community by policing people who are evading the fare just because they don’t have 2.75,” said Lillian Gooden, a protestor. “That money could be better spent improving the system, improving the tracks, improving the signals. Fare evasion is not the main concern.”
Protestors gathered at MetroTech Commons off Jay Street at around 6 pm, where they rallied against the increased presence of law enforcement in the borough’s transit network, which has been rocked by two violent police actions caught on camera last week.
In one, a cop from the 84th Precinct is seen punching a teenager in the face during a brawl in the Jay Street–Metrotech station. The teen, who was charged with assault, plans to sue the city for $5 Million.
In the second incident, a 19-year-old at the Franklin Avenue stop was held at gunpoint and arrested by a dozen officers after a gun report that was determined to be false. The teen was later charged with “theft of services” for fare evasion.
Following the MetroTech rally, the protestors marched through the streets flanked by hundreds of cops, carrying banners, chanting slogans such as “Ante up – punch that cop!” and participating in a mass fare–beating at the Hoyt–Schermerhorn Street station.
A protestor was arrested for vandalism after allegedly scrawling “PIGS” on the side of a cop car, the New York Post reported. Another man was issued a summons for allegedly spitting at cops. Other protestors were seen pelting a cop car with garbage, leading one former cop to condemn the protestors.
“I’ve protested against aggressive policing for decades,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former cop and current mayoral candidate. “What I saw last night went beyond an acceptable protest.”
However, Queens Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasia Cortez went to bat for the protestors on Twitter, claiming the MTA’s plan to attack the city’s poorest commuters will only make the subways more dangerous.
“Arresting people who can’t afford a $2.75 fare makes no one safer and destabilizes our community,” the lawmaker tweeted. “New Yorkers know that, they’re not having it, and they’re standing up for each other.”