Dozens Flood Subway System To Protest Fares, MTA Policing

WCBS 880 Newsroom
January 31, 2020 - 7:05 pm
Subway protest NYPD

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Dozens of protesters took to the city’s transit system during the Friday evening commute to wreak havoc, demanding the MTA rollback its plan to hire 500 new police officers and also get rid of the system's $2.75 fare.  

Beginning at Grand Central Terminal, demonstrators gathered in the station's grand concourse, where arrests reportedly began. It remains unclear how many people were taken into police custody by the end of the protest.

Things escalated when groups descended to the subway platforms and began jumping the turnstiles in large numbers.

Video on Twitter showed dozens upon dozens beating the fare while chanting.

Police officers then began blocking some entrances into the subway system throughout Manhattan and using smoke to deter the action.

Heavy police presence could be seen throughout multiple subway stations, as they attempted to arrest protesters and stop others from taking part in the fare beating. The large scale protest did not appear to be hinder subway service.

The demonstration was organized by the activist group Decolonize This Place, which posted a cryptic video urging people to come out en masse.

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In the video posted Tuesday, a masked person and two other masked people stand in front of the camera while announcing the protest.

“F*** your $2.75. No cops in the MTA. Free Transit. No harassment period, and full accessibility,” the masked person says in the video.

“We hope you can come through and move with us on J31. F*** the police,” the person ends the video.

Organizers say the protest is to denounce everything from police on the subways, the $2.75 fare and the lack of accessibility.

Throughout the day, protesters have been committing various acts of vandalism, including graffiti, destroying the OMNY tap screens and MetroCard swipes and chaining open the handicap accessible doors.

One video on Twitter showed someone squeezing some sort of green substance onto one of the MTA's new contactless payment systems at a subway turnstile.

Prior to 5 p.m., the NYPD has been preparing for the protest, according to a memo obtained by WNBC.

NYPD Chief Terence Monahan on Thursday told command staff Thursday: “While we will always protect people's right to protest, illegal conduct that puts law-abiding community and cops in danger will not be tolerated in New York City.”

Monahan said the group “will attempt to disrupt public transportation, cause disorder - and physically assault police officers.”

“It is imperative that officers take appropriate action and make arrests when they observe a violation of the law,” Monahan said.

The NYC Police Benevolent Association responded to the video on Twitter: “New Yorkers should pay close attention: this is true endgame of the anti-police movement, an end of all policing & destruction of public order. Our members have spent their careers -- and in some cases given their lives -- to bring public safety back to NYC. We can't go backwards.”

Meanwhile, Chief Terence Monahan released a video informing protesters that all forms of vandalism would not be tolerated.

This isn’t the first protest of police in the subway and transit fares. Just months ago in November, dozens of people were arrested at a protest in Harlem. Another November protest saw 1,000 people march in the streets of Brooklyn.