Statement from #CLOSErikers Campaign Coordinator Brandon Holmes on Governor Cuomo Increasing MTA Police Force

Black and brown New Yorkers live in communities where those of us at the margins are most impacted by broken windows policing and where harassment at train stations is rampant. This is well-documented on social media by everyday commuters.

New York City pumps over $7.3 billion dollars1 annually into law enforcement agencies including the New York City Police Department, the New York City Department of Probation, and our courts and charges them with solving problems they will never be equipped to address. And in doing so, our City applies law enforcement solutions to problems of public health, poverty, and inequality. It is a square peg in a round hole. It will never work. It hasn’t worked. We need less police, not more.

The city must explore alternative models of responding that specifically interrupt and de-escalate violence on the subway without the escalating effect of police in our out of uniform.

In announcing the assignment of 500 additional officers to subway and bus stations, Governor Cuomo has demonstrated a commitment to continuing to criminalize poverty. Public transportation must be accessible and affordable to everyone. If the Governor, the Mayor, and DAs are concerned about fare evasion, they must instead work to fully fund the Fair Fares reduced price Metrocard program, including single-ride and pay-as-you-go fares, and implement fare capping, as recommended in our #buildCOMMUNITIES platform. They can also support advocates’ calls to make all student metrocards unlimited, so that students can participate in after school activities beyond the current timeframe (8pm) and beyond one additional ride a day. Students who live near their schools should also get metrocards so they can participate in programming in other neighborhoods.

Police do not and cannot guarantee safety in our communities, or address the root causes of harm. Too often, they perpetuate further harm and violence, including their selective enforcement of arrests almost exclusively Black and Brown New Yorkers for fare-beating. Poverty is not a crime, and we must invest in community resources to build stronger, safer, more stable communities.