Activists assembled at subway stations throughout the city today to offer free MetroCard swipes to those unable afford the $2.75 fare, part of a campaign to protest "Broken Windows" policing tactics that disproportionately affect low-income individuals and people of color.

Known as #SwipeItForward, the campaign was organized by a number of groups, including Coalition to End Broken Windows, Bronxites for NYPD Accountability, BLM NYC, and Police Reform Organizing Project.

According to Albert Saint Jean, a member of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration and one of the Brooklyn organizers, #SwipeItForward specifically targeted subway stations in primarily low-income neighborhoods with significant populations of people of color. One of this morning's protests took place at the Nostrand Avenue A/C stop, while an evening action is planned for Broadway Junction. Other protests occurred this morning in Harlem and at the 3rd Ave-149th Street 2/5 station in the Bronx, and more protests are planned for the evening commute at 6 p.m., according to Saint Jean.

Protestors situated themselves inside and outside stations, handing out fliers and chanting slogans such as "Poverty is not a crime." Several stood to the side near the turnstiles with their hands raised to indicate their willingness and ability to swipe someone in.

Under the MTA Rules of Conduct, it is illegal to ask for a swipe (though the MTA has ceased enforcing this rule), or to ask for payment in return for giving someone a swipe. However, it is legal to give someone a swipe if they don't ask you, and for them to accept the swipe. And though an unlimited MetroCard will prevent the swiping-in of two riders in succession, the Unlimited MetroCard Conditions of Use make it clear that you can swipe a fellow rider into a station once you have ended your trip and are leaving the station.

The campaign’s messaging emphasized the legality of swiping people in, and their materials and chants focused on the high volume of summonses issued for fare evasion, and what organizers said is particular targeting of communities of color.

"Fare evasion was the number one arrest category last year," said protestor Jared Chausow, citing widely-distributed 2015 statistics from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services that were originally obtained by Police Reform Organizing Project. "It's flagrantly a criminalization of poverty. 92 percent of people arrested for this offense are people of color."

Run-of-the-mill fare evasion, such as jumping the turnstiles or using a bent card, is technically enforced as a civil, not criminal offense, with fare-beaters being issued a summons. However, the police retain wide latitude to detain or arrest fare-beaters.

The campaign organizers pointed to the high fines imposed for the comparatively small price of a fare, noting that the resources spent on policing fare-beating (nearly $51 million per year) "could be spent on free or reduced-price MetroCards" like those available to students and senior citizens.

Transit activists and politicians have been pushing Mayor Bill de Blasio to sign a bill that would allow the city to fund half-price MetroCards for the working poor.

"If I can't afford a $2.75 fare, then I can't afford the ticket that comes with me beating the fare," said protestor Elsa Waithe. Besides the possibility of arrest, fare evaders face a $100 fine, a penalty that is 37 times the fare being lost. A study done earlier this year found that nearly a quarter of low-income, working New Yorkers were unable to afford a bus or subway fare at least once during 2015.

Dinick Martinez, a resident of East New York who was standing on the platform at Nostrand around 8:50 this morning, told Gothamist he'd accepted a swipe and said he asks for swipes daily to get to his adult learning classes in the neighborhood, noting it was often a choice for him "between either food or MetroCard."

Another commuter, Trinia McDonald, approached organizers and thanked them for their work. She described disparate policing she sees in her Crown Heights community compared to where she works in Midtown Manhattan. "I get off at 23rd Street in Manhattan and people jump the turnstiles there all the time," she said. "There are no undercover cops or cops in uniforms and they frequently jump the turnstile. But here it's like the people of color are targeted."

According a spokesperson from the NYPD, the mere solicitation of a swipe, not accompanied by prohibited conduct such as blocking the turnstiles, is "not a violation and therefore not enforced." The spokesperson did not comment on the #SwipeItForward Campaign.

Update (4:15 p.m): Protest organizers reported increased police presence at several of the #SwipeItForward sites.

Additional reporting by Raphael Pope-Sussman