Did someone offer to swipe you in on the subway for free Monday? It could’ve been someone from groups that organized actions across the city. Maybe it was a fellow New Yorker offering a swipe of his or her unlimited MetroCard. Every swipe is one less potential police stop — and that goes a long way.
A piece of the #swipeitforward movement since 2016 is to inspire people to help each other. It happens already, and it’s this informal, daily resistance that’s important given fare increases and the deportation risks that fare-beating arrests pose for immigrants.
In stations where I and others have done actions, people have been thankful. Some shared stories about friends and family being arrested or ticketed. Peyton Berry, an organizer, saw two Latino boys stopped by cops after hopping a turnstile in Washington Heights. They were issued summonses. Their school-issued MetroCards had expired.
Michaela, a 31-year-old black Harlemite who did not want her last name used, said she and a Latina were pulled off the M60 bus and questioned for not having a Select Bus Service receipt. MTA security agents, she says, allowed white passengers who had been pulled off to buy receipts, but fined her and the other woman $100.
Then there’s the story of Deion Fludd, a Brooklyn teen who was killed after running from cops who chased him for fare evasion. Police and family accounts differ. Fludd slipped into the subway in 2013 with his girlfriend on one swipe. Cops approached. Fludd ran onto the subway tracks. He had low-level arrests on his record and another could’ve meant jail time. Police say he was hit by a train. Relatives say Fludd regained consciousness and said cops beat him. He died nine weeks later from his injuries.
MTA rules say swiping people in, as long as you’re not receiving compensation, is legal. A few other tidbits: Don’t linger by the turnstile, which is obstructing, and do offer swipes before people ask. Cops can enforce against merely asking for a swipe as panhandling, another poverty-related behavior that broken-windows tactics discourage.
For those who want to end the era of broken windows, here’s your chance.
Josmar Trujillo is a trainer, writer and activist with the Coalition to End Broken Windows.