Anna Hintzsche, Contributing Writer
New York Police Department (NYPD) officers received strong backlash and criticism for tackling and arresting 19-year-old Adrian Napier in a subway car because he jumped over a turnstile, evading the $2.75 fare, on Oct. 25. A viral Twitter video showed police officers surrounding the car where Napier sat with his hands up, not making any attempts to flee or hide and asking other passengers to call his mother. In a panic, passengers moved to both ends of the subway car, away from Napier, because officers had drew their guns on the teen.
According to a statement released by the NYPD, officers were investigating a report by a witness who claimed to have seen Napier waving around a gun at a subway station in Brooklyn. When officers approached Napier, he jumped over the turnstile and boarded the train. Officers began to draw their weapons until at least ten officers had their weapons aimed at the unopened train car. Many of the others at the scene were terrified, parents later reporting that their young children who had been on the train were traumatized from the event. Despite Napier’s cooperation, videos even showing him offering to lay on the floor instead of sitting, the officers tackled him to the ground and arrested him.
This disregard for the public safety over fare evasion, along with the disagreement with hiring of 500 officers on top lead to the second weekend in November to be one full of protests in the subways and in the streets.
On Nov. 8, Brooklyn subways filled with hundreds of people outraged with the NYPD’s brutality over something as non-violent as hopping a turnstile and getting on a subway train. People were facing off with officers, hopping turn styles, and parading in the streets with signs. A heavy anti-police sentiment was present during the protests, with marchers chanting, “How do you spell racist? NYPD.” Signs included sayings such as “F**k the Police,” “Don’t Let those Pigs Touch Us,” and “NYPD – KKK.”
The protests added to the ongoing debate over New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s decision to fund 500 new police officers to patrol the New York public transit systems and combat the increasing levels of fare evasion. This decision has received criticism for targeting black and Hispanic riders.