The New York Police Department arrested multiple people late Friday at a protest that started in Grand Central and continued outside.
Masked protesters started gathering just after 5 p.m. many holding posters expressing anti-police sentiments, according to local television footage. The protest came after three masked people from the Decolonize This Place group in a video posted on Twitter told people they should enter subway stations and board trains without paying money.
The group’s goals include removing all police from the subway system and making the system free for passengers.
The group also encouraged people to inflict damage on turnstiles, which passengers have to go through to get onto train platforms, and commit other acts of sabotage.
The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, which represents over 50,000 officers, said in a statement that the video showed the “true endgame of the anti-police movement, an end of all policing and destruction of public order.”
“Our members have spent their careers—and in some cases given their lives—to bring public safety back to NYC. We can’t go backwards,” the group added.
Photographs taken on Friday showed places where metro cards are slid by passengers covered with an unknown substance, and doors labeled for emergency use held open by bicycle locks.
“This morning, a group of individuals vandalized subway stations. We believe the same individuals will attempt to disrupt the evening commute by causing disorder, endangering commuters—and even attempting to physically assault our officers. IT WILL NOT BE TOLERATED,” Monahan said in the social media post.
“While the NYPD will always protect people’s right to protest, we will not accept illegal behavior that threatens the safety of others. Those who break the law will be arrested,” Monahan said in the video.
According to ABC NY, dozens of people were arrested on Friday. One person who damaged property was being sought by police, the department said in an alert.
This individual is wanted for criminal mischief/damaging property last night at the 50th St/8th Ave subway station on the C line- If you have any information about this incident or the identity of this suspect, please call @NYPDTips at 800-577-TIPS – You can remain anonymous pic.twitter.com/ZRWUSHEIEa
— NYPD Transit (@NYPDTransit) January 31, 2020
One protester, Sydney Daniels, told CBS NY that she wants free public transportation and fewer police officers.
“There’s so much in the budget that can cover free transportation instead of more police. I don’t understand why it’s going that way instead of the other way,” Daniels said.
“We pay for the metro with our taxes. Why are we being charged then hounded if we don’t pay to use it? And of course, it’s disproportionately brown and black people being hounded and arrested,” another protester, Brandy, told the outlet.
In a statement after the evening protest stated, Patrick Warren, the Metropolitan Transportation Agency’s chief safety officer, said that the demonstration “follows the dangerous pattern of previous activities that have resulted in vandalization and defacement of MTA property—clearly violating laws.”
“Those actions divert valuable time, money and resources away from investments in transit services that get New Yorkers to their jobs, schools, doctors, and other places they need to go,” he added.
“The MTA has zero tolerance for any actions that threaten the safety of the public and our employees, and impede service for millions of customers. We are monitoring conditions as we cooperate with the NYPD and MTA PD to maintain service while ensuring everyone’s safety.”