MTA launches hate crime prevention campaign after spike in incidents

One piece of imagery to be displayed in the transit system in an effort drive down hate crime instances. (Photo courtesy of MTA via Flickr)

On the heels of a reported 42 percent spike in hate crimes on New York City Transit last year – and a transphobic assault in Harlem on Friday – the MTA plans to launch an anti-hate campaign on subways and buses.

MTA Chair and CEO Pat Foye said Monday that messages discouraging hate crimes from taking place will be displayed on 4,000 digital screens throughout subways, 2,600 on buses, and 550 screens on commuter railroads. This program began Monday, which is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

“Most New Yorkers act appropriately and most New Yorkers are aware, but the point of this campaign is to raise awareness first, perhaps in some cases to change behavior, but also to make clear as each of the speakers said that this is unacceptable on the MTA system,” Foye said. “The police will tell you … that the sooner they get evidence of a crime, the quicker they can act the more likely they are to apprehend somebody.”

The new 2020-2024 capital plan has funded CCTV to be rolled out across the system, and funding for the campaign will also be included, but Foye did not have answer as to when the security measures will be fully rolled out.

Foye said MTA employees have been trained to respond to incidents on trains and buses by reporting issues to the police as part of an ongoing effort to step violence against transit workers.

According to Foye, the campaign encourages New Yorkers to take action even against the smallest acts of bigotry on the subways.

“It’s important to cut this behavior off – hate crime type of behavior – even if it’s just slurs which itself is offensive and constitutes a hate crime. You don’t want that to escalate,” Foye said.

Although hate crimes were up across the system, the Metro-North Rail Road was the only division that saw a decrease in hate crimes in 2019.

The Jan. 27 news conference in Grand Central not only followed the release of fresh statistics, but a new crime on the subways that gained public attention.

On Friday at around 8 p.m., well-known transgender journalist Serena Daniari as allegedly attacked by a man and woman who struck her and knocked her phone out of her hand on a downtown C train platform at 155th Street in Harlem.

The attack gained the attention of Governor Andrew Cuomo who instructed that state Police Hate Crime Task Force to join NYPD in its search for the perps. One of suspects was arrested and is being transported back to the city, Foye told reporters.

The NYPD, however, could not immediately confirm if there was an arrest in the case when contacted by amNewYork Metro.