NYPD & MTA Wage War On Poor, Marginalized Communities
This is not about a fare. It’s about keeping us poor with little to no rights.
For every stride made regarding equality, prison reform and any attempts to narrow the gap between the haves and have nots, there will always be new strategies (with an traditional twist) that will effectively nullify those supposed gains.
The biggest wealth gap exists in NYC where many live below the poverty line while the wealthiest can afford steampunk designed residences.
Despite knowing this, the MTA and police under Governor Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio increased targeting specific communities for fare evasion. But is that the real reason?
It’s A Win For The MTA Regardless
People attribute their values and priorities to other people, companies and organizations. Typically this is a mistake because different experiences manifest different values. Many also do not take into account or acknowledge our society and system is built on white supremacy.
As such, it’s a win no matter what. For the MTA, if the people in poor neighborhoods are targeted for fare evasion what happens to them does not matter because they are not paying anyway. In the end they will pay or they will be beaten, tased, shot, jailed, fined or any combination thereof. So for the MTA there is no loss.
They will either pay or suffer.
It’s More Than $2.75
It matters even less for the city of New York — that includes Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo — and the NYPD.
First, the wealth inequality in New York has not changed. Many live below the poverty line and with rising consumer costs and apartments, it’s a challenge to survive in this city. The yearly income average of the top 1% in New York is around 2 million. The average of the 99% is around 50,000. Not sure if this is before or after tax, but let’s say it’s before. So after taxes you have about $39,000.
Your total bills in a year, will be close to about $20,000 if you’re lucky and many factors play into it. Do you have your own apartment or do you room? Apartments cost around $3000 a month while a room will average around $1100. Phone, electricity, credit card, gas, food will all add up. So, you may be able to pay that fare. Congratulations.
However, about 43% of NYC residents live at or near the poverty line. The poverty line for an individual is around $12,000 a year and $24,000 for a family of four. If you’re the 43%, paying that fare is a challenge, particularly if you have children and are the sole breadwinner.
If it was to simply discourage people from hopping turnstiles, police presence would be enough to achieve that. But often, police will hide so they can apprehend someone jumping a turnstile. Often it will be people who struggle to survive day to day, because that’s their intended targets, who come from poor neighborhoods. I’ve rarely seen police in stations in white neighborhoods.
The problem here is not the $2.75. It’s the cost of living — from apartments to products — it’s all rising while hourly wages are not rising at the same rate.
This is targeting poor communities that have Black people and/or POC and punishing them.
It’s also a win for a city that, Democrat or Republican elected, continues to follow “broken windows” policing methods (only for marginalized people), because crime is down and subway crime is also down. So how can they justify an increase police presence? By criminalizing poverty as they have always done. This is no different than “loitering” being created as an excuse to arrest and harm marginalized communities and get Black people in jail so the south didn’t lose their revenue stream after the abolishment of slavery.
Under law & order they target Black people and people of color while those duped by this dogwhistle rhetoric will blame the target of racism and white supremacy because they choose not to look beyond the $2.75 fare. In their eyes it’s theft, it’s criminal and it shouldn’t be done.
The school to prison pipeline is being challenged as well. How do you once again target Black and Brown kids and justify it? How do you make it seem as though you are trying to repair race inequality while also aiding the inequality? By grabbing them for fare evasion. Though some may go, “it’s only a fine” — a fine the kid likely can’t pay — it also ignores that racism will play a role in how the kid who jumps the turnstile is treated.
All it will take is the officer grabbing a teen and the teen pulling away for it to escalate and for the kid to be charged with resisting arrest. There will be brutality and will we hear from the police that they received a “tip” the individual was armed, such as the incident recently where cops trained their guns on a Black teen in a subway car. Or the video of cops punching teenagers in a subway station. Or the teenager that was tased.
How many stops will be “just a fine” when they can’t afford to pay? How many will be “just a fine” when a teenager pulls back or shows bravado against authority? How many will be “just a fine” when there are no body cameras running and in the end we are at the mercy of a system meant to keep us poor and subhuman? How many will be “just a fine” when it was never about a fine or a fare, but waging war on the marginalized and poorest?