Occupy Activists Open Gates for “Free” Subway Service
Brooklyn’s cash-strapped straphangers must have thought they were getting a sign from the transit gods this morning when fliers bearing what appeared to be the MTA’s official stamp of approval informed them that there would be system-wide “free entry” at subway stations today. Turns out it was probably a sign from a merry band of Occupy Wall Street sympathizers, who, according to the Daily News, chained open emergency exit gates in at least six stations throughout the city, allowing sign-abiding citizens to catch a few trains on the house.
The posted bills, one of which can be seen on Gothamist, were convincing mimics of official MTA rider notices. They informed commuters that there would be “no turnstile access” due to “planned system changes” and requested that they instead “Please enter through the service gate.”
An entity calling itself the “Rank and File Initiative” released a statement on Twitter earlier today attributing the morning’s gate-fixings, at least in part, to Occupy Wall Street protesters and the Transport Workers Union Local 100. It begins: “This morning before rush hour, teams of activists, many from Occupy Wall Street, in conjunction with rank and file workers from the Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the Amalgamated Transit Union, opened up more than 20 stations across the city for free entry. As of 10:30 AM, the majority remain open. No property was damaged. Teams have chained open service gates and taped up turnstiles in a coordinated response to escalating service cuts, fare hikes, racist policing, assaults on transit workers’ working conditions and livelihoods — and the profiteering of the super-rich by way of a system they’ve rigged in their favor.”
The statement, which continues for several paragraphs, can be read in full at occupywallst.org (the unofficial official website of the decentralized protest movement, or at least its first Google result) under an unsubstantiated headline claiming that this morning’s “fare strike” allowed “tens of thousands” of commuters to ride for free.
Though the statement’s claim that more than 20 stations were hit by activists has also yet to be confirmed, police sources did verify to the Daily News that, following the discovery of the first rigged gate at 5 a.m., heavy padlocks and chains were found on the gates of six stations this morning. Brooklyn stations with gates ajar included Halsey St. on the L, Ninth Ave. on the D and Carroll St. on the F.
Transit Wokers Union Local 100 President John Samuelsen denied to the Daily News that his organization had anything to do with the morning’s “fare strike,” although Local 100, which is currently involved in contentious contract negotiations with the MTA, does support the Occupy movement, according to the union’s website.
Along with the mock-up MTA notices, gate-jackers also posted fliers promoting a May 1 national general strike that Occupy Wall Street has been helping to organize.
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