Nick Malinowski

Street Artist: NYPD Subway Crackdown Is Killing Livelihoods, Creativity

The NYPD has made a big show of sanitizing the subway system so far in 2014, removing panhandlers, peddlers, the homeless and artists, writing tickets and making arrests. So far this year, panhandling arrests are up 260%, and arrests for dancing in train cars have also spiked: 240 arrests so far compared with fewer than 40 in the first half of 2013. The arrests are “classic Bratton,” according to Eugene O’Donnell of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, referring to NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton’s fetishizing of broken windows-style policing and his unique affinity for New York’s transit system. According to Bratton, by targeting low-level crime, the NYPD is preventing more serious situations from developing. The theory is wildly held, but remains unsupported by any substantive research. Despite the arrests, Mayor Bill de Blasio says no crackdown exists, but has indicated his support for “broken windows” nonetheless. For its part, the NYPD acknowledges that dancing on the subway cars is not a major issue for New Yorkers, and that no injuries have been reported as a result of the performers.  

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The Bratton Pivot: Can a “Progressive” Mayor Contain the NYPD?

Since January, when Bill Bratton came on board  to head  the NYPD, there has been a dramatic increase in arrests for jaywalking, for asking for metrocard swipes in the subway, for homelessness and even for selling churros – classic Bratton targets as we look back into his history in Los Angeles, Boston and his first stint in New York.  In the BronxCrown Heights and Spanish Harlem, the police are pulling people off buses and demanding receipts – a “show-me-your-papers” practice reminiscent of Arizona’s SB 1070 and the old Jim Crow.  

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