This past Tuesday hundreds of Crown Heights commuters were given free Metrocard swipes in protest of the New York City’s aggressive fare beater policies. According to a recent report, the protesters represent the Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP), a political advocacy group that uses research and education to create discourse about the practices of the NYPD. Fare evasion or “fare fraud” is generally a crime in most jurisdictions but these protesters were hoping to shed light on a process that often borders harassment.
“We’re protesting and exposing police harassment of people of color and of low income,” said PROP director Robert Gangi. “When you look at who’s being arrested for fare evasion, it’s almost always people of color.”
Based on statistics from 2015, in New York City a whopping 92% of fare beaters arrests were people of color. The protester’s campaign entitled “Swipe It Forward”, aims to prevent citizens from falling victim to an expensive summons based on a $2.75 fare evasion.
“We’re criminalizing poverty,” Gangi said. “People aren’t hopping turnstiles because they like to.”
The protesters swiped in rush hour riders in Crown Heights, spending over $500 while creating a dialogue about an issue that they believe deserves more attention. This instance serves as the second event for the PROP but they pledge to create more “Swipe it Forward” opportunities throughout the summer.