Filed under: Action, Anarchist Movement, Austerity, Capitalism, Featured, Ontario, Police, US
On November 29th, cities across so-called North America responded to a call to engage in fare strikes and other autonomous actions around mass transit. The call itself was inspired by similar actions in Chile and the #FTP marches in New York which have demanded an end to law enforcement on public trains following a string of police shootings and brutal beatings.
Inspired by ongoing revolt in #Chile against austerity + resistance to transit cops in #NewYork, cities across North America took part in a day of action demanding free service + police off transit. Here's our roundup of #NoBodyPays from SF to Toronto. https://t.co/NPQvLQSIFa pic.twitter.com/M5VPbNWFsz
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) December 1, 2019
In recent months, the topic of fare evasion has become an increasingly looming bogeyman in the capitalist press, as transit officials across the US have pushed for more police and fare inspectors on buses and trains. In New York, this predictably has led to a series of brutal incidents, where police have targeted youth, people of color, the poor, and street vendors. Moreover, as many have pointed out, fares are generally only a small portion of what funds public transit, and fare enforcement is really about creating a barrier to the point of entry which can exclude the poor under the threat of police violence.
This repression has also been coupled in an increasing austerity model across many systems, in which the costs of the system have been put on riders through fare increases, on workers through job cuts, and on the poor by the process of excluding them from the system by means of the police. As City Lab pointed out:
The MTA has launched a new campaign to combat fare evasion, which the agency claims cost them $300 million this year in lost bus and subway fares. That has been coupled with the hiring of 500 transit officers underground—which could cost the system more than it saves in recovered fares.
The growth of a neoliberal austerity model coupled with increased police repression comes at a time when working-class riders are relying on mass transit more than ever, as gentrification pushes more and more people farther and farther away from their work places and urban cores. Amazon workers on Staten Island for instance, are currently protesting for access to free transit to and from their jobs at fulfillment centers – a demand echoed in the November 29th call for free transit across the board.
With all this in mind, its great to see people responding to the call for action. Below is our roundup on what went down and we encourage people to send us report backs to info [at] itsgoingdown [dot] org.
Also check out:
- November 29th Call
- Fare Strike FAQ
- Interview with Seattle Anarchists on Fare Strike
- This Is America Interview on #FTP actions in New York
- Report Back from New York #FTP March
In Seattle a group of people engaged in fare evasion while chanting slogans and handing out flyers. However, this initial group left the rally point before the bulk of the people who came out for the demonstration arrived, including those who heard about the event through radio interviews and online articles. While the event was still a success, hopefully people can learn from this action for the next engagement. A report on the action can be found here.
— Alex Garland (@AGarlandPhoto) November 29, 2019
— Youth Liberation Front Seattle Division (@seattleYLF) November 29, 2019
At @nobodypays Fare Strike 2019-
amid chants to
🚩Tax the Rich, Not the Poor🏴
one young comrade told by a COP that if we “don’t like the rates, then don’t be poor.”
Big turnout with everyday riders jumping on the Free Ride, cheering and joining in with #NoFareIsFair
— Red May Seattle (@redmayseattle) November 29, 2019
Portland saw probably the largest action, with reports of over 100-200 people taking part throughout the entire day. People began the event by rallying outside of the Trimet transit center, proceeded to march inside the building while chanting, and then collectively boarded mass transit where the demonstration continued and flyers were handed out. The event itself was organized by a coalition of anarchist, autonomous anti-capitalist, and antifascist groups and also focused on a recent decision to add more security on buses to target fare evaders.
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) November 29, 2019
As folks skipped fare, direct action was taken against Trimet propaganda posters on board that encouraged a paranoid survaliance culture and calling the police. Leaflets were handed out to fellow riders and the word continues to spread about the movement for free fare in PDX! pic.twitter.com/hpWdtgx85H
— Demand Utopia (@DemandUtopiaOG) November 29, 2019
San Francisco, CA
In the working-class Mission District of San Francisco, California, a mass fare evasion action was organized. Videos posted on social media show that flyers were also distributed and graffiti messages were also written. A report on the action can be found here.
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Communique from the Bay Area fare strike action yesterday. Friday November 29th, Bay Area (born and raised) youth evaded unjust fares and hopped the turnstiles en masse, stating their concern for their communities and a desire to hold BART accountable for attacks towards them. They say that many people from the Bay regularly hop as a basic point of survival and likewise, they have no intention of stopping these evasions. On Black Friday, majority black and brown youth, born and bred in the Bay Area evaded unjust fares and hopped the turnstiles en masse. “We care about our communities and are holding BART accountable for their attacks towards us. We have no intention of stopping.” The youth are evading fares to bring attention to three main issues: overpricing of fares, over policing on the BART and solidarity with fare strikes in Chile and around the world. Overpricing of Fares: Public Transportation is necessary for working people’s survival (not to mention, the survival of the planet we live on at this point)! Bay Area locals use BART for everything from work to school to doctor appointments. Price increases make fare hopping unavoidable because the fares are too expensive. “We demand that BART lower fare prices for all people, so that Bay Area youth and the poor can afford them!” say the evasion organizers. Over-Policing: The increased presence of BART police and predatory ticketing in BART stations makes youth, particularly black and brown youth, disabled, as well as homeless people unsafe. They are targeted by these well-known murderers every time they BART and share similar concerns for homeless people who are continuously abused at BART stations. Chile Solidarity: The protest is also an act of solidarity with Chile and other fare strikes being held around the world. As families are displaced and more locals find themselves homeless in one of the country’s wealthiest regions, paying high fares is no longer an option, says one organizer: “If you are actually from the Bay Area, you can’t afford to never hop.”
Pro-fare evasion stickers and posters put up. A group of people also engaged in a collective fare evasion with a banner reading, “OK Boomer.” Check out the video below.
The global movement against the cost of mass transit and the policing of turnstiles has spread to Chicago with a #BlackFriday mass-evasion downtown. #NobodyPays Free transit 🚉 for everybody! https://t.co/72d1S9u4bH pic.twitter.com/pWmLD8a5VT
— Chicago Commune (@chicago_commune) December 1, 2019
Pro-fare evasion stickers put up, flyers passed out, and a pay station was sabotaged.
On Friday, fare evaders in the Twin Cities decorated lightrail stations and handed out fliers in solidarity with those in revolt, from Santiago to New York City.
— The Minnesota Wild (@lets_go_wild) December 3, 2019
— The Minnesota Wild (@lets_go_wild) November 29, 2019
In Toronto on Friday, about 20 people carried out a group fare evasion following a climate demonstration while chanting, “Public transit should be free! Liberate the TTC!” The act took place a day after a group of high school students hoped turn stiles to board trains for free, which was captured on a viral videos. A report on the action can be found here.
Youth led mass evasion spreads to Toronto. Evasion is the stuff of life, an undercurrent of subversive care. The tide is rollin in, catch a wave. 💕✨ https://t.co/EqP3VL1040
— Everyone Rides for Free (@ridefreenyc) November 28, 2019
In one of the videos, dozens of people rushPresto turnstiles at what appears to be the Runnymede subway station, vaulting over them without paying.
The second video shows a large group of people flood through the back door of a TTC bus and appear not to pay. An individual is heard in the video saying: “F— the TTC,” before boarding.
Anarchists launched a sticker and outreach campaign around the strike. Full report here.
Fare box sabotage. From the communique:
Over the past several days, motivated by an international call for transit fare strikes, the fare distribution machines in several metro stations were disabled by blocking the debit/credit card readers and coin slots.
The STM is continually hiking fares and deploying squads of wannabe-cop “inspectors” to harass, fine, and assault people over $3.50. Currently, the STM is even seeking to give its inspectors expanded powers to detain and arrest people and access police databases. Every effort to maintain and expand policing of people’s movements deserves to be met with resistance. Fortunately, there is no shortage of inspiration from around the world, above all the ongoing revolt in Chile.
These actions were experiments with some simple, effective, and fairly discreet means of sabotageing fare collection and enforcement. At this point in time, the method that gives us the most confidence is to apply super glue to both sides of a random unactivated gift card and insert it fully in the debit/credit card slot, and put more super glue in the coin slot after causing it to open by operating the machine as though you want to pay for a ticket with cash. We hope this technique can be reproduced widely alongside other tactics for taking these machines out of service.
Live free, ride free.