Art by Rachel Levit Ruiz
It's an underground war. By now, you’ve seen the ads in the subway: “We’d rather your $2.75 fare than your $100 fine.” You may have also noticed a lot more cops on the platform with you—500 additional MTA police officers to be exact. This is the latest effort out of Gov Cuomo’s office to end “fare evasion” and increase “quality of life.” This week, we're talking about what it actually is: over-policing and the criminalization of poverty.
Recent NYPD stats show that fare evasion enforcement is up 50%, with 21,000 more summonses in 2019 than 2018. In late October, at least 10 officers with their guns drawn arrested a man sitting with his hands raised over an unpaid fare. Just days later, a second viral clip showed officers roughly handling several young people for fare evasion (one officer is seen punching one of them!). This sparked a massive protest against NYPD’s brutality, with hundreds of NYers marching through the streets of BK. Most recently, NYPD was seen arresting a womxn over her churro cart. Not shocking: all incidences included people of color.
There doesn’t seem to be enough $$ to fix the real problems plaguing the MTA, but somehow Cuomo's found $260M to hire more MTA cops. This “investment” is under the guise of tackling increasing crime on the subway...but it's not actually rising. Fare evasion only costs the MTA $40M more than the cops themselves. And more enforcement doesn't solve the real reason people jump turnstiles: poverty. Instead, it criminalizes the poor and POC: almost 90% of arrests & 70% of summons in the first 3 months of 2019 were targeted at Black and Latinx riders.
The City's solution to fare jumping is to provide low-income NYers with
half-priced metrocards (at a cost of ~$200M per year)—an effort that actually gets at the heart of the reason so many NYers are jumping turnstiles. So what can YOU do to support more sensible measures?
—Take it to the streets! Join the 2nd Emergency FTP Action Against NYPD & MTA on November 22nd @ 5:15 PM.
—Call your State Rep! Urge them to tell Gov Cuomo to remove the 500 cops he placed into our subway system.