Protesters outraged by Governor Andrew Cuomo's hiring of 500 MTA police officers are promising a day of action in the lead-up to this evening's "citywide convergence" at Grand Central Terminal. [See updates on tonight's protests at the very end of this post.]
Already, several demonstrations are underway inside the transit system, including a banner-drop at the Oculus and swipe-it-forward actions in Queens. Anti-police graffiti has been reported in some stations, and subway gates have been bolted open "all over the city," according to one organizer.
Around 11 a.m., protesters plan to disrupt traffic around Wall Street, linking the MTA's spiraling debt to recent fare hikes.
The actions are all ramping up to a "J31" protest at Grand Central, the third from the loosely-knit coalition of anti-capitalist groups known as Fuck The Police. Two previous protests in November brought hundreds of people into the subway system, leading to mass fare evasion actions and dozens of arrests.
The group's demands include kicking police out of the subway system, free transit for all, and full accessibility.
"What was sparked by the 500 additional cop increase for $250 million and the punching of our teens and almost killing of commuters in the name of security and safety has since transformed into a movement," one organizer with Decolonize This Place, who declined to share their name for fear of police retribution, told Gothamist. "Security of whom? It ain’t ours."
Those planning to attend the Grand Central protest should expect a heavy police presence, and "be ready for things to pop off," according to organizers.
A spokesperson for the MTA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Update: Actions are taking place all around the city, from the Bronx to the Tweed Courthouse by City Hall:
Protesters are also targeting the new OMNY contactless payment readers:
Shortly after 5 p.m., hundreds of protesters and police officers converged on Grand Central. It appears that several arrests have been made.
As of 5:45 p.m., Metro-North service and 4/5/6 trains were running without delays.
As large groups of protesters left Grand Central, police began blocking subway entrances near Bryant Park.
We've seen at least one arrest happen outside the Bryant Park subway entrance near 6th Avenue and 42nd Street.
"A protester may have drawn something on the Cartier window then a plainclothes policeman jumped out of the crowd of protesters and attacked and tackled her and dragged her away and then a row of about 50 police attacked all the protesters," witness Brandon Cuicchi, 43, told us.
We'll update this story as more actions are reported throughout the day.