#SwipeItForward, Black Lives Matter NYC, featured, News, NYC Protests, Politics, Race, Subway Laws NYC, Turnstile Hopping NYC -

NYC Activists #SwipeItForward to Protest Unnecessary Criminalization of Poor Subway Commuters

#SwipeItForward, Black Lives Matter NYC, featured, News, NYC Protests, Politics, Race, Subway Laws NYC, Turnstile Hopping NYC -

NYC Activists #SwipeItForward to Protest Unnecessary Criminalization of Poor Subway Commuters

image via flickr.com
image via flickr.com

In New York City, the vast majority of commuters get where they need to go via the extensive subway system, which is run by The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA. The New York City Police Department has recently criminalized not only hopping over the turnstile (and not paying the fare), but also asking other commuters to pay their way.

In fact, those who do hop the turnstile or enter an MTA subway because of a swipe from someone else’s Metrocard can face a $100 ticket, or even be arrested for what the transit rules and regulations call “theft of service.”

Activists and advocacy groups from across New York City planned an elaborate protest — #SwipeItForward — Wednesday to demonstrate to the NYC government just how they felt about this. They offered free subway fare at stations that serve primarily poor commuters, Black commuters and other commuters of color.

Members of Black Lives Matter NYC, the Black Youth Project 100 and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, as well as other groups, swiped commuters through turnstiles during the morning and evening rush hours. Additionally, they encouraged commuters with unlimited Metrocards to pay it forward by swiping in someone else as they themselves exited the stations.

It is completely legal that the activists are asking people to swipe. The illegality is if someone who needed a ride asked for the swipe. This tiny, nuanced loophole helped create a protest that they hope will get attention.

The leaders of the protest said they have one goal: to send the message to law enforcement that it is an unfair to target poor people, arrest and fine the New Yorkers who cannot pay for their commute.

According to the statistics cited by those encouraging commuters to #SwipeItForward, it costs the city over $50 million per year to criminalize those evading subway fare, Mic reports. Additionally, the vast majority of them live below the federal poverty line.

What’s more, activists said 92 percent of the nearly 30,000 fare evasion arrests made in 2015 were people of color, citing recent criminal justice statistics. Specifically, of the 28,969 total people arrested for theft of services in 2015,  2,291 were white, while 26,678 were Black, Hispanic or Asian. The activists added that 87 percent percent of those arrested for these charges were young people.

Atlanta Black Star reached out to Black Lives Matter NYC and is awaiting comment.


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