Photo: Protesters take the streets of Harlem in New York City against police repression
By Sandra Harris
Over the weekend, thousands took to the streets in Harlem, New York City to protest police brutality and the increased deployment of officers in subways meant to deter fare evasion. The protests were the second of their kind this month, and showed an increase in organization and militancy, with a reciprocal, escalated response by the brutal New York Police Department (NYPD), who indiscriminately arrested an estimated 58 people during the protest.
Gathering at the Harriet Tubman memorial in Harlem, protest organizers explicitly stated that this march was unpermitted. Attendees chanted slogans like “Fuck 12” (12 being a slang reference to police), carried signs and banners with anti-police messages, and vandalized NYPD vehicles. Videos and reports also emerged that the arm of one subway turnstile had been completely cut off.
The police pushed back heavily against the protestors; they barricaded and stood over subway stations in Harlem that were completely shut down to prevent another round of mass fare evasions but were unsuccessful after the protest split into smaller contingents. As protestors marched, the police pushed them out of the streets and also blocked off public sidewalks to restrict their movement.
Several videos depicted the police violently grabbing and arresting protesters who refused to move, another showed an officer threatening people with a taser even though they were standing on a public sidewalk.
The police repression against Black people and oppressed nations immigrants in subways has continued to arouse the anger of the masses over recent weeks. Several incidents of police arresting food vendors in subways in addition to their ongoing crackdown against fare evaders made the rounds of social media, further stoking the flames of rebellion.
Two reported incidents showed women being arrested for selling churros. In both situations, they were apprehended by multiple officers, handcuffed, and their carts were taken away. In another incident, a Black teenager who was selling candy at a subway station in Manhattan was tackled and handcuffed by police.
Harassing oppressed nations people who do not have the time or willingness to navigate complicated bureaucracies to obtain the appropriate permits to publicly sell food has become especially common in large cities with sizable immigrant populations such as New York and Los Angeles.
At a press conference one of the women who had been arrested, an immigrant from Ecuador named Elsa, talked about how had been selling churros both in and around the station for the past three years. Through a translator she said the police had “never been so violent” with her.
Contrary to the narrative being pushed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which claims that the police are being deployed to prevent a reported $300 million loss in revenue from fare evasions, the police have mainly harassed and brutalized oppressed nations, especially immigrants from Latin America and Black people. The masses are ready to fight back against the police who oppress them. The people of New York City are correct to escalate actions against state-sanctioned terror, especially by rejecting to march via legal permit and opposing any collaboration with the police.