Activists In New York City Are Protesting Unfair Policing By Giving Free Swipes To Subway Riders

"End broken windows. Invest in people."

If you've seen one of the many videos online of people breakdancing on MTA trains, you might assume that New York City subway stations are always fun place to be. But despite the impromptu performances, the reality is that the stations are often home to some questionable interactions between civilians and police officers. Although the act of giving a free subway swipe to someone in need is perfectly legal, cops often ticket those good Samaritans swipe in on the grounds that they are panhandling.

On Wednesday, activists in New York City protested by offering free subways fares at stations to people in need. Called #SwipeItForward, the event was organized by Black Lives Matter NYC, the Black Youth Project 100 and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.

The activists were posted at subway stations in Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn that commonly serve people of color.


Nearly 30,000 people were arrested last year for farebeating, or jumping over the turnstiles at a subway station entrance due to the increasingly expensive fare. Over 90 percent of arrestees were people of color. This is considered a "broken windows" crime, which refers to a policy of policing low-level offenses in the belief that it will somehow prevent major crimes.

The goal of Wednesday's protest was to show law enforcement that criminalizing poverty and its effects is unacceptable.

The good news is the city might be scaling back some of its farebeating efforts. In Manhattan, officers are now issuing a ticket or court summons instead of arrests for riders who don't pay the fare.

So swipe away. The ultimate solution, of course, as one Twitter user pointed out, would be to decrease the burden of mass transit fares on commuters.

A Plus reached out to Black Lives Matter NYC, the Black Youth Project 100 and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration for a comment.


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