Trains on the 4, 5, and 6 lines skipped the 125th Street station in Harlem during rush hour Friday evening. There was no track work underway, no broken signal, none of the usual dysfunction on the aged transit system. Instead, hundreds of demonstrators were signaling their discontent over plans from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to hire an additional 500 subway cops. Those plans have coincided with recent incidents of heavy-handed policing captured on passenger cellphones. These include the arrest of a woman for selling churros, the punching of a 16-year-old bystander during a fight on a Brooklyn train platform and the drawing of a gun on a suspected turnstile hopper.
The new cops are expected to crack down further on fare evasion, essentially a crime of poverty. They will allegedly save the Metropolitan Transportation Authority $200 million over the next four years. The cops come, however, with a $249 million price tag through that same time period, a cost that, according to the Citizens Budget Commission, will balloon to $1.4 billion over ten years. The new hires arrive as the MTA is operating at a growing budget deficit in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Friday’s demonstration followed a Nov. 2 protest, at which approximately 1,000 demonstrators hopped the turnstiles at Brooklyn’s Hoyt-Schermerhorn station, to the great embarrassment of the NYPD. The police came prepared Friday to prevent the protesters from exercising another mass civil disobedience in Harlem. Fifty-eight protesters were arrested.
Here’s the demonstration in photos.
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