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Free MetroCard Swipes Head to Stations Wednesday to Protest NYPD Crackdowns

By Nicole Bode | November 1, 2016 4:18pm
 The MetroCard design has remained virtually unaltered since its introduction back in 1997.
The MetroCard design has remained virtually unaltered since its introduction back in 1997.
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Courtesy of the MTA

NEW YORK — Advocates will swipe commuters into the subway for free Wednesday morning — and encourage others to do the same — at stations across the city to protest NYPD crackdowns on those who can't afford a fare.

The citywide "Swipe it Forward" day of action will target stations including The Bronx's 2 and 5 train stop at 149th Street and Third Avenue at 7:30 a.m., Harlem's 4/5/6 stop at 125th Street and Lexington Avenue at 5:30 p.m. and unspecified locations in Brooklyn, according to advocates.

Advocates say they are carrying out the action to call attention to the problems with the NYPD's "Broken Windows" policies, saying the NYPD arrested nearly 30,000 people on charges of farebeating last year, 92 percent of which were of people of color. They also issued 120,000 tickets and summonses for similar charges, advocates say.

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Advocates from the Coalition to End Broken Windows, Why Accountability, Police Reform Organizing Project, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Black Lives Matter NYC Chapter, Black Youth Project 100, Equality for Flatbush and ANSWER Coalition said they don't just plan to swipe commuters into the stations.

They will also be "encouraging everyday people to swipe in their fellow New Yorkers with their unlimited MetroCards."

"By encouraging people to help each other, we offer a direct solution to the problem of criminalizing people who simply can't afford to pay the ever-growing cost of MTA fares (which are set to rise again)," the groups said in a statement.

Advocates argue that the city would be better off spending the money it spends on prosecuting farebeaters and paying officers to arrest them on providing free or low-cost transit options for New Yorkers.

This is the latest day of action to protest fare-beating arrests, after similar protests in Jackson Heights and Harlem.