This is becoming a fine example of a contrast in styles between the residents of two major cities. When people in Washington want to schedule regular protests, they bring in Jane Fonda and a conga line of celebrities for Fire Drill Fridays. They line up in their Hollywood finery and chant slogans about the climate emergency and the need for direct action. Meanwhile, down on the mean streets of New York City, they set aside Friday nights to bring hundreds of people out to block the streets and chant “F*** the Police!” (NY Post)
Police arrested a yet-specified number of anti-cop demonstrators who flooded the streets of Upper Manhattan to protest a fare-evasion crackdown and police in the subways Friday night.
The crowd of protesters swelled to more than 100 people soon after it kicked off at about 5:30 p.m. in Harlem. The demonstration was called to protest Governor Cuomo’s plan to add 500 police officers to patrol the subway and several high-profile, caught-on-video arrests in the subway system in recent weeks.
As the group marched down 125th Street near Malcolm X Boulevard, they chanted “f—k the police” and “fare free NYC.”
The reasons given for complaining about the NYPD (and the governor) have expanded since last week. In addition to not wanting people to be arrested for jumping the turnstiles in the subway, demonstrators were angry over the arrest of several vendors who were selling food and candy on the platforms. This short video provides a bit of the flavor of the unrest during a march that kicked off in Harlem.
We’ve covered some of this before, but the “substance” (for lack of a better word) of these protests should be both amazing and alarming to people observing them. If there were protests over a police shooting of someone who turned out to be unarmed or something of that nature, you could almost understand the anger and the desire to take to the streets. But that’s not what this is about.
These protesters, hurling foul language and insults at the NYPD, are focused on police being deployed to the metro stations to prevent people from skipping out on fares. They’re angry about arrests of unlicensed vendors. But the fares are a large part of what keeps the badly underfunded mass transit system running. The laws about vendors – particularly food vendors – needing to be regulated are in place to make sure people aren’t getting food poisoning.
In short, the demonstrators are protesting the police for enforcing the law. In case nobody has noticed, that’s sort of their reason for existence.
And yet we see people marching through Harlem demanding that the subways and buses be “fare-free” so as not to impact poor people. How is the city supposed to continue to pay for and operate one of the largest mass transit systems in the world with no revenue? The MTA is already facing a one billion dollar shortfall over the next four years. But the anger boiling over in the streets is directed at the police who are out there doing their jobs. Why not put your energy to more productive use and go protest the City Council that allowed things to fall so far into decay to begin with? Or better yet, get everyone together and stop voting for the same group of idiots that you’ve allowed to run the city into the ground for decades.