OWS protesters pull prank telling MTA straphangers not to pay fare
Dozens of disguised Occupy Wall Street protesters chained open entrances to subway stations across the city early Wednesday morning and posted bogus signs -- looking strikingly similar to the MTA's normal service fliers -- that told straphangers to enjoy a "free" ride during the morning rush hour.
"Free entry / No fares collected," the signs read. "Enter this station for free through the service entrance."
The sign suggested the prank would be pulled again "until the resolution of contract negotions [sic] in favor of TWU Local 100," which has been without a contract since January.
Protesters claimed they propped open 21 stations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens for free entry during the morning rush hour. An organizer told amNewYork that members of the Transport Workers Union and the Amalgamated Transit Union helped plan the demonstration, but did not physically participate.
The TWU, which has supported previous OWS protests, denied having any knowledge or involvement with the demonstration. A spokesman for the ATU told amNewYork he believed union members were involved.
An NYPD spokesman said police were investigating the incidents, but said no arrests were made as of Wednesday night. He provided no additional information, and would not confirm the protester’s claims. The MTA declined to comment.
At Wednesday’s MTA board meeting, some protesters complained that the agency let the NYPD commandeer a bus to cart away dozens of demonstrators arrested at Zuccotti Park on March 17.
“The NYPD used the bus to hurt us by slamming people’s heads into bars and steps and seats on the bus,” protester Jen Waller said. “I don’t think this is something that your buses should be used for.”
Another protester who said his hand was injured during his arrest showed reporters a picture of what he said was a bus window broken when police pushed a protester against it.
MTA chief Joseph Lhota said the agency “will work with the New York Police Department on all types of situations,” but said bus drivers can opt not to drive buses and turn over the wheel to cops.
A judge denied a request by the TWU last year to prevent the NYPD from using MTA buses to transport arrested protesters after 700 people were cffed for blocking traffic during a rally on the Brooklyn Bridge.