Activism

Protests Erupt in NYC Over Violent Subway Station Arrests

The crowds jumped turnstiles and chanted, “How do you spell racist? N-Y-P-D.”

Hundreds of protesters filled Brooklyn streets and poured into New York City subway stations this weekend after videos of several violent arrests went viral. The crowds jumped turnstiles and chanted, “How do you spell racist? N-Y-P-D.” 

In late October, cell phone video captured the arrest of 19-year-old Adrian Napier, who was swarmed, tackled, and arrested by a group of officers who claimed a witness said Napier had a gun. Officers did not find a gun, but still arrested Napier and charged him with fare evasion for allegedly skipping the $2.75 subway fare. 
 
Days later, video footage surfaced of police attacking and punching several teenagers during an altercation at Brooklyn’s Jay Street-MetroTech subway station. The NYPD said five people, ranging from 15 to 18 years old, were arrested and charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and assaulting a police officer.
 
Earlier this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that an additional 500 officers would be deployed to deter fare evasion.
 
“...The MTA is still plagued by problems of public safety, attacks against transit workers and persistent fare evasion - issues that have only worsened in recent years,” he said. “This new multi-pronged effort will improve safety on the system overall, protect workers from these incomprehensible assaults, and deter fare evasion by deploying 500 new uniformed officers on our subways and buses.”
 
Some say the crackdown on fare evasion unfairly punishes low-income people who cannot afford the $2.75 fare.
 
“Ending mass incarceration means challenging a system that jails the poor to free the rich,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted. “Arresting people who can’t afford a $2.75 fare makes no one safer and destabilizes our community. New Yorkers know that, they’re not having it, and they’re standing up for each other.”
 
The NYPD issued a statement in response to the protests, saying, “The NYPDA does not interfere with constitutionally-protected activities, and works to ensure public safety as New Yorkers exercise their First Amendment rights. Over the last five years, the NYPD has focused on precision policing. Our anti-gun and anti-violence strategies, coupled with our Neighborhood Policing philosophy have allowed our officers to build stronger relationships with the community and drive crime down to historic lows while successfully bringing the most violent offenders to justice.”

Police said one person was arrested for vandalism and another was issued a summons for spitting on a police officer during the Friday night demonstration.

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