RT, February 1, 2020
Subway stations across New York City’s five boroughs faced delays during Friday rush hour after hundreds of protesters gathered for a mass action over a plan to ramp up police presence in terminals and crack down on fare-skippers.
The demonstrations kicked off on Friday afternoon and saw throngs of protesters – many clad in masks and carrying banners – descend upon stations throughout the city, scrawling anti-police slogans on walls and destroying MetroCard and OMNY readers used to pay fares. Social media was awash in photos and videos of the event, showing demonstrators as they filled subway stations with signs and placards.
Protesters with @decolonize_this at Grand Central demanding free transit, no cops in subways in response to MTA Policing hiring surge adding 500 cops to subway system. #FTP3 #decolonizethisplace pic.twitter.com/Tv24eO29ub
— Brendan Krisel (@Brendan_Krisel) January 31, 2020
In several terminals, protesters jumped turnstiles and used bike locks and chains to prop open emergency exits, encouraging commuters to evade fares.
Another big jump here at Bryant Park, protestors jumping headed somewhere southbound on the Orange lines. pic.twitter.com/nYianNulwg
— The Indypendent (@TheIndypendent) January 31, 2020
At least nine demonstrators were arrested after brief scuffles with police, who responded with a highly visible presence at stations across the city. No serious injuries were reported, however.
— barely informed with elad 🕵🏻♂️ (@elaadeliahu) January 31, 2020
As the evening wore on, protesters spilled out into the streets from Grand Central Station, one of the main rallying points for the action, heading off to other meet-ups around the city to continue the demonstration.
The loosely coordinated event was organized by Decolonize This Place – a left-wing coalition comprised of some 30 separate groups – which put out a promo video before the protests outlining their aims, including demands for free public transit. They also oppose a planned police crackdown, which was approved by the city’s transit authority late last year in order to address crime and fare evasion, entailing the hiring of 500 additional officers to patrol the subways.
The group organized a number of subway protests last year after the forceful arrest of a 15-year-old was caught on video in a terminal in downtown Brooklyn during a brawl, which it dubbed an example of police brutality. The teen’s parents have since filed a $5 million lawsuit against the city.
Earlier on Friday, after preliminary acts of vandalism ahead of the demonstration, the NYPD said protesters planned to create “disorder,” and even “physically assault” officers, insisting the action would “not be tolerated.”
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority also slammed the action in a statement, saying it followed a “dangerous pattern of previous activities that have resulted in vandalization and defacement of MTA property, clearly violating laws,” adding that it would “divert valuable time, money and resources away from investments in transit services.”