You Can Get Arrested For Manspreading on the Subway

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The MTA’s etiquette campaign posters, female commuters, the blogger behind Men Taking Up Too Much Space on the Train, and Jon Stewart aren’t the only ones fighting to end manspreading on subways–now, the NYPD is, too. As Gothamist reports, the Police Reform Organizing Project’s new “That’s How They Get You” report, which compiles stories from arraignment and summons courts, includes an anecdote in which two Latino men were arrested on the charge of “man spreading” on the subway. 

According to the report (PDF):

“On a recent visit to the arraignment part in Brooklyn’s criminal court, PROP volunteers observed that police officers had arrested two Latino men on the charge of “man spreading” on the subway, presumably because they were taking up more than one seat and therefore inconveniencing other riders. Before issuing an [adjournment contemplating dismissal] for both men, the judge expressed her skepticism about the charge because of the time of the arrests: “12:11AM, I can’t believe there were many people on the subway.'”

The judge didn’t toss the manspreading charges outright, but gave the defendants (who had outstanding warrants for public urination and being in a park after closing) an ACD, meaning all charges will get thrown out if they never manspread again avoid another arrest for a designated period of time.

While it’s against MTA rules to “interfere with the operation of the Authority’s transit system or the comfort of other passengers,” even passengers consistently deprived of subway comfort because each of a dude’s thighs apparently needs its own seat might agree that manspreading is not an arrest-worthy offense. Most of the stories in PROP’s report are examples of Broken Windows policing, the philosophy championed by NYPD commissioner William Bratton, which holds that cracking down on misdemeanors (turnstile-jumping, walking between subway cars) helps deter more serious crime. In practice, Broken Windows policing disproportionately targets people of color, who made up 94% of the PROP report’s 850 defendants.

Follow Carey Dunne on Twitter @CareyDunne

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