The tension in the air collected without ever seeming to settle, as residents in adjacent apartment buildings pointed and filmed the oncoming influx of crowds with their cell phones. “No justice, no peace, no racist police!” shouted protestors in unison towards a group of officers monitoring the MTA march on Friday, November 22, 2019.
“The city just hired 500 new cops, which’ll cost around $250 million in taxpayer dollars. Fare hopping on the other hand costs the city $200 million [dollars], which kind of puts things into perspective,” said Dean Patterson, a journalist in attendance who had also covered the first protest in Brooklyn at the end of October, in response to Governor Cuomo’s recently announced plan to double the size of the underground police force, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The new policy comes after recent MTA estimates that the system will lose $300 million this year as a result of fare hopping. Activists argue that the proposed police hiring highlights officials’ misdirected motives, as they believe the new policy will likely target low-income and minority riders instead of addressing the actual problem at hand.
As the majority of the protestors in attendance on Friday seemed to skew towards a younger demographic, older attendees stood out starkly from the rest of the crowd. Dressed in an MTA uniform held a cardboard sign as he marched with his group, Seth Rosenberg, Local 100 Fightback Coalition Member and MTA train operator, attended the march as newscasters and journalists bombarded him with questions.
“The [authorities] are targeting anybody but themselves. They’re going after fare evasion and youths of color. The fares keep rising when it should be funded by capitalists and Wall Street, by the rich and powerful. They should be profiting from the economic engine of the system,” said Rosenberg, who also later brought up the mismatched numbers between the cost of police hiring versus that of fare evasion. “The math says this is not what this is about.”
But while having a free public mass transportation system may not be the ideal solution, many hope to see more low-income fare programs in the coming future. “Not everybody can afford to ride the subway everyday, and it’s the easiest way to get around. I hope they decide to implement fairer fares. That’s why I’m here today,” said another protestor who requested not to be identified.