Cops Are Now Ticketing Subway Riders for A Totally Legal Transfer

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There are certain things we do in this city that we know might not be technically legal, but are tacitly acknowledged as acceptable, so we do them anyway. These things all come with varying degrees of risk (you probably won’t get a ticket for jaywalking, but drinking a beer in the park is a little more dicey), however we take these risks because the benefits outweigh the potential—minimal—costs. As of late, though, due in no small part to new police commissioner Bill Bratton’s implementation of the Broken Windows Policy (in which the perpetrators of petty infractions are targeted as a means to supposedly diminish more serious crimes), these types of violations are being heavily ticketed and, as the New York Daily News reports today, lines are long outside the city’s “dingy summons court” as people wait to pay fines for things like “walking through the park after dark, bicycling on the sidewalk, drinking on the street and even spitting.”

As controversial as the Broken Windows Policy has become, targeting as it does mostly people of color and of low income and indirectly leading to the murder of Eric Garner, lately the city police have been targeting commuters who aren’t even doing anything illegal—and the tickets are being upheld in court! Via Patchstats (and a tip off from Second Avenue Sagas), we found out that people have been ticketed for staying on the 6 train as it turns around after it reaches its final stop, Brooklyn Bridge station. Although many subway lines request that all passengers leave once a terminus is reached, the 6 train allows riders to stay aboard, if only to catch a glimpse of one of the hidden treasures of the New York subway system, the abandoned City Hall station, replete with Gustavino arches and antique chandeliers. In fact, it’s been legal for passengers to stay aboard since 2007, when the MTA even stopped announcing Brooklyn Bridge as being the “last stop,” and instead just informed riders that the train would be turning around and heading back uptown.

And yet, two people were ticketed earlier this month for doing this totally legal thing, and then went to Transit Adjudication Bureau (TAB) court to fight the $50 fines, only to have the illegal tickets upheld! This is some major bullshit! But it is also not all that surprising in de Blasio and Bratton’s New York, a place where selling loose cigarettes leads to relentless harassment and eventual death. It is also pretty clear that there won’t be any slowing down of this type of police behavior, not when it’s proving to be so profitable for a city that no longer has Bloomberg’s personal coffers to garnish the existing budget. (Which is not to say that it’s better to have a billionaire mayor. On the contrary! It’s that kind of dependency on and assumption of the continuation of extreme wealth and privilege that’s fucked this city so hard in so many ways. Anyway.)

This type of police behavior and indiscriminate ticketing is all the more ironic considering de Blasio made a campaign promise to legalize one of the most innocuous and common infractions: stoop drinking. But now that he’s mayor and not just running for mayor, he doesn’t seem to care that much about what he once thought was important to stand up for, namely lower income and minority residents. Instead, de Blasio and Bratton are counting on the fact that it’s a pain in the ass to fight these types of minor tickets, and maybe not even financially worth it, considering that the ticketed might need to take time off work in order to get the fine dismissed. Not to mention the fact that sometimes courts rule in favor of the illegal ticket. But fight them we must, because we can not accept these types of tickets as par for the course; we can not take this lying down, lest we get walked all over.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen

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  1. Sidewalk cyclists clip people and run over small dogs. The sidewalk is crowded with pedestrians — because it’s FOR pedestrians. Sidewalk cyclists are a huge danger, and somehow we lump them in with this other, petty bull$h!t? NO.

    • I challenge you to go ANYWHERE in NYC with me and my videocamera. You will find me ANYWHERE where there are more lawless CYCLISTS than lawless PEDESTRIANS. (Jaywalkiing is DEADLY. No joke!) I BET YOU REFUSE TO TAKE THIS CHALLENGE b/c you agree pedestrians are the biggest lawbreakers in town. If you’re SINCERE, you’ll take the challenge. (Betcha you don’t. We’ll start with the Bklyn Bridge where you’ll see ALL the cyclists obeying the law and 90% of the peds BREAKING the law.)


      • Yes, that is because there are more pedestrians. Jaywalking can be deadly, but mostly to only the person doing the jay walking. A cyclist on the sidewalk can cause injury or death to an innocent victim i.e. the pedestrian. Don’t cycle on the sidewalk.

        Life long Cyclist.

      • Wow, you’re an idiot. No one’s going to take your “challenge” because its obviously a scam. You sound like one of those sleazy assholes who flunked out of Law School after one semester and now tries to take advantage of people who don’t know any better, pretending to be a Lawyer. And who knows, you could actually be a murderer or rapist (this seems likely).

        As for your “ALL the cyclists obeying the law” bullshit, I see cyclists disobey the law every single time I walk as little as two blocks in Manhattan. Take your nonsense elsewhere.

      • Dude, Ilana Gorelik is right, cyclists going on the sidewalk (at least in areas with lots of pedestrians, it’s a non-issue if there’s no one in sight on the sidewalk) is dangerous. I’m a frequent cyclist so believe me it’s not just hating on cyclists. Anyone biking on the sidewalk in any area with a significant number of pedestrians is an idiot and an a-hole.

        • For all of the ridiculous accommodations NYC has been making for cyclists (and the real reason is to screw people that drive cars), I am constantly seeing cyclists breaking the law, running red lights, biking the wrong way down the street, biking around traffic outside of lanes, etc.

  2. Doesn’t writing a summons for a nonexistant offense constitute “filing a false report”, which is a misdemeaner?

    • Thank you!

      Just like ANY cop who was part of the Garner case who MISSED the ILLEGAL chokehold should at least be FIRED b/c it proves they are inept and worthless at their job.

  3. How about the entire reality that cops, police officers have NO zero nada zilch none authority to write anyone any ticket. They only get away with it because they force their illegal selves onto the innocent citizens. This is legalized robbery and must stop.

    • You are correct.

      Everything the NAZIS did was “legal” so NO human of conscience cares about “Rule Of Law”. Law means little.

      We Americans NEVER agreed to 99% of the things our “representatives” did, and that’s ILLEGAL says the Declaration Of Independence. A Govt that does not CATER to the People is an ILLEGITIMATE GOVT.

  4. I like how it took the writer about two paragraphs (probably 200 words or so) to actually get to the story itself. Where’d you learn to write? NYT?

  5. No offense, but I think it’s pretty lazy from a journalistic perspective to draw your own conclusions, with no actual basis in fact, and present them as accurate. It actually IS NOT legal to stay on the 6 train; you just assume this is the case for the few inconclusive pieces of evidence you mentioned in the article. These tickets were upheld by the judge because it IS the law. It isn’t just a case of an angry justice system nickle-and-diming perfectly lawful citizens. It is them finally finding the time and effort to enforce this law. Do your “editors” always let you make wild assumptions to create a story?

  6. I live in Chinatown, can the cops that are handing out tickets for spitting please come and start working in the Chinatown precinct? Word of warning though, wear a rain jacket or some sort of protective clothing, you’ll end up looking like Bill Murray in Ghostbusters after the first week.

  7. I get the enforcement of the law preventing cyclist from riding on the sidewalk. But when many of the post began to attack one another and sling nasty comments, it’s counter productive. Stick to the issues and we can quickly get some resolution or at least good information that people can take away and use to fight such illegal tickets. #justsaying

  8. This is nothing new. I went to fight a ticket years ago. The Arbitrators are absolutely told to find everybody guilty, unless absolute proof is produced. I couldn’t believe the stuff I was hearing.
    The only reason I was left alone, was because The cop that ticketed me, was SO out of line, if I told the story, he would have looked BAD, and any video tape would have backed my story.
    He just kept saying, I do not recollect this event, so she had to dismiss my case. Others, she jacked up their fines ungodly amounts, for daring to fight.
    If you count the number of rooms for this in each dmv, and the number of people who show, by the number of dmvs in the city, they make millions on bilking the public. The system I suspect, was tweaked to do this, under bloomscum.
    It’s a joke, and the joke is on us.
    I’ve also been ticketed for completely legal things, I had no idea were legal, but The cops would. A sergeant told me this.

  9. Complaining about being ticketed for staying on the 6 train to head uptown is one thing. Writing an article and equating it to an injustice like Eric Garner’s is what you called entitled, whiny, and childish.