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Dec 18, 19

Protesters Disrupt MTA Board Meeting as City Hires 500 More Cops

Today, several people disrupted a meeting of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), who pushed through a decision to hire an additional 500 more law enforcement officers to police mass transit in the New York area.

In recent weeks, mass protests have broken out against a string of police beatings and harassment on mass transit, as the police have implemented a ‘broken windows’ policy of cracking down on so-called fare evasion and food vendors. Ironically, as the transit system is in a financial crisis, the city is poised to spend more money on police than it supposedly loses in fare evasion.

As the Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council wrote online:

Protestors disrupted the illegitimate MTA board meeting, chanting in favor of free public transit, cops out of the subway, housing for the homeless, improved disability access, and infrastructure. 6 people were violently detained.

In a press release, MACC wrote:

New York, NY – Community groups are demonstrating today against the MTA’s decision to hire 500 additional cops to police New York’s public transit system, a move directed by Governor Cuomo with the support of Mayor de Blasio. This morning’s MTA board meeting will include a vote on the new operating budget that will allocate $249 million to expand police presence.

The budget proposal states that these cops will “support fare evasion and homeless outreach mitigation efforts,” signaling the government’s preference to criminalize poverty, rather than house the homeless and make the subway more accessible for low-income riders. In 2018, the MTA’s total operating revenue was nearly $16 billion, whereas its estimated loss in revenue due to fare beating was $215 million.

The addition of new cops to the subway is certain to endanger riders of color, already targets of racist police violence. The Police Department is currently being sued by cops alleging that commanders told them to target “black and Hispanic” people on the subway. In 2016, Black people made up less than one-third of poor adults in Brooklyn, yet accounted for almost two-thirds of those arrested for fare beating. A study by Community Service Society maps how arrests for fare beating that occur in high-poverty areas overwhelmingly affect predominantly Black neighborhoods, compared to all other groups of color.

As the MTA heads into a financial crisis—moving from an $11 million surplus in 2019 to a $467 million projected deficit in 2020 “due to increasing debt service costs,” according to their projected operating results—the authority seeks to spend $50 million annually in order to criminalize communities of color. By 2022, bailed-out Wall Street banks are projected to collect debt service from the MTA that will consume over one third of fare and toll revenue and at least 16% of annual spending.

We will not stand by while an undemocratically appointed Board quietly pushes this crucial decision through on a midweek morning. We will not stand by while fare beaters become scapegoats for poor service and neglected infrastructure. We will not stand by while Black and brown youth are assaulted, the homeless are harassed, and immigrant vendors are terrorized—all for $2.75. Eliminating fares is the best way to ensure that no one is priced out of public transit or criminalized for trying to access it. We say “no cops, no fares!”

According to Decolonize This Place on Twitter, more protests are planned in the coming weeks.

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It’s Going Down is a digital community center from anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements. Our mission is to provide a resilient platform to publicize and promote revolutionary theory and action.

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