New York subway fare enforcement punitive and concerning

The measures taken by Gov. Cuomo will disproportionately hurt racial minorities in the city.

On Oct. 25, a swarm of police officers pointed their guns on a black man sitting on a train full of civilians. The police officers then swarmed in and forcefully pushed him to the ground, arresting him. Another video showed a group of police officers engaging in a fight with multiple black and Latino teenagers, one of the police officers punching a black teen in the face. Both confrontations were because of fare evasion, and both videos have amassed thousands of shares on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The video has now become the catalyst for protests and demonstrations New York civilians are taking against the racially unjust lengths New York is going through to deter fare evasion. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo is hiring 500 more officers for the subways that are not required to wear body cams. There have been plans put in place to install cameras in every subway station. This plan will require more than $250 million a year in its proposed capital plan.

Even if the installation of more cops and cameras could help deter crimes like robberies and possible assault, the citizens of New York are concerned and upset with these adjustments because these actions seem to be racially charged. The impoverished citizens of New York, who are mainly minorities, are most at risk of being charged with fare evasion and more likely to be victims of police brutality. The lack of body cams required on the police officers have the public worried, because this can lead to more reckless and dangerous behavior exhibited by the NYPD. There have been protests and demonstrations both on the subways and on the streets, two of them being the masses jumping over the turnstiles and marching in the streets chanting “No NYPD in the MTA!”

With these additional obstacles the NYPD is putting in place, it’s almost like they are starting an unfair fight on the impoverished citizens of New York. The New York State government and the NYPD would rather spend more money fighting fare evasion than brush off the yearly amount of money they lose because of fare evasion. With the money they are willing to spend, they could lower the price of the fare, making it easier for the citizens of New York to get around. New York is criminalizing something that people from low income households are likely to do, thus giving police a reason to be rough, because the fare evaders are “criminals.” Citizens are being forced to choose between getting to work and school or breaking the law.

The people of New York aren’t necessarily marching for the price of bus fare to be lowered, but are mainly acting in response to the acts of police brutality that are carried out on fare evaders and turnstile jumpers. A protestor stated they’re “marching against the brutality of the police in the black community” and “I jump every day, that’s why I’m here.”’ For something like fare evasion, in the long run there is money being lost, but not as much as business that will be lost from people avoiding public transportation and the money that’s being used through the additional police officers and the installation of security cameras everywhere.

The amount of money being spent on something as minuscule as fare evasion in comparison to poverty, homelessness and police brutality is unsettling. Making it harder for the poor and homeless to have transportation instead of combating the things that make them poor and homeless is counterintuitive to the progression New York should be striving for.

Post Author: Nora Bethune