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Activists Offer Free Subway Swipes in Protest of 'Broken Windows' Policing

By Dartunorro Clark | August 3, 2016 12:33pm
 Activists swipe in subway riders to protest the NYPD's
Activists swipe in subway riders to protest the NYPD's "broken windows" policy.
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DNAinfo/Dartunorro Clark

HARLEM — They went against the system—swipe after swipe.

A dozen activists gave free rides to hundreds of commuters Tuesday to protest the NYPD’s “broken windows” policing method which follows the theory that cracking down on minor crimes — such as targeting subway fare jumpers — will prevent major offenses.

The activists set up at Harlem’s A, C, B and D subway station at 125th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, loading $250 onto four Metro Cards and swiping straphangers in. Soliciting swipes is itself illegal.

“Harlem — both east and west — is where we see fare beaters most of the time,” said Josmar Trujillo, a member of New Yorkers Against Bratton.

“It’s not illegal to need a swipe. It’s not illegal to be poor.”

The Police Reform Organizing Project, which helped organize the demonstration, said there were more than 120,000 summonses issued last year for fare evasion and about 30,000 arrests.

Of those arrests, 92 percent were people of color, according to the organization which analyzed the data.  

“Not being able to afford $2.75 should not land you in Rikers Island,” Trujillo said.

“In so many ways it’s worse than Stop and Frisk because you cannot just walk away, you’re being punished with a summons.”

Many of the commuters welcomed the demonstration Tuesday.

“I think it’s definitely unfair,” said Harlem resident Shaneese Starr. “I swipe people in all the time with my unlimited (card)."

The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The demonstration was held on the heels of the sudden resignation of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.

Trujillo said he’s obviously elated to see Bratton, who he considers the architect of “broken windows” policing, step down. But he said the policy is likely to continue even after Bratton leaves.   

“Broken windows is the idea that Bratton put in place,” he said. “We are fighting against the man and his legacy.”