7 February 2020

NYPD Hands Off “FTP” Subway Protesters!

On January 31, hundreds of activists gathered in subway stations across New York City to protest cop terror on the trains and demand free, fully accessible public transit. “FTP3” was the third in a series of “Fuck the Police” demonstrations against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) that have taken place since November (see WV No. 1168, 17 January).

In the lead-up to the latest action, the NYPD and local media set up FTP protesters for a cop rampage with a fearmongering campaign demonizing the activists as criminals and vandals. The city’s largest police “union,” the Police Benevolent Association, foamed on Twitter that “violence against cops is on their agenda,” while the Sergeants Benevolent Association railed against protesters as “domestic terrorists” and “useless members of society.” This naked display of racist contempt toward the young demonstrators is just one more example of how the capitalist state’s machinery of repression particularly targets poor and working-class black and Latino people. Cops are not workers—their “unions” have no place in the labor movement!

During the protest, the multiracial FTP activists were flanked by legions of police thugs, including counterterrorism officers, MTA security and heavily armed Homeland Security agents, ready to carry out arrests, or worse. Within the first few minutes of the convergence at Grand Central station, cell phone footage showed cops jumping several people and detaining those wearing masks. At other stations in the city, cops were filmed howling at participants and shoving them for even attempting to enter the subway.

Chanting “No one should go to jail for not having $2.75!” protesters have raised the crucial demand for free mass transit. This demand was historically a position of the New York Transport Workers Union (TWU). But the TWU leadership has treacherously echoed the MTA’s call for more cops on the subway to combat so-called “fare evaders” and the homeless. It would be a strong display of union strength for the TWU—whose own multiracial membership is no stranger to MTA attacks and racist police harassment—to mobilize in defense of and alongside FTP protesters. In fact, together with the rest of city labor, transit workers have the potential social power to fight back against the profit-gouging MTA bosses and lead the struggle for the rights of the riding public.

Though the NYPD claims to have arrested only 13 people during the January 31 protest, organizers reported as many as 45 arrests. At this point, everyone appears to have been released, but protesters are being slammed with bogus charges including assault, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. We demand: Drop all charges now! For free mass transit!

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1169, 7 February 2020)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.