A number of retired NYPD police officers, and one active-duty Lieutenant, have offered up affidavits in a discrimination lawsuit that suggests one commander, in particular, was directing subordinates to target Black and Brown people for fare evasion within the NYC subway system. The report by The New York Times says the legal case stems from activity that took place between 2011 and 2015.

 Still, New York City’s approach to fare evasion seems to have remained consistent with earlier accounts. According to the report, from late 2017 to mid 2019, Blacks and Hispanics made up 90 percent of the people who were arrested for fare evasion. They accounted for 73 percent of the men and women who received tickets. 

Jumaane Williams, NYC public advocate told the paper, “The focus of Black and Brown people, even if other people were doing the same crime, points to what many of us have been saying for a while. The same actions lead to different results, unfortunately, depending on where you live and an overlay of what you look like.”

Data also shows that enforcement within the New York City transportation has increased year over year and officers have issued significantly more tickets in that time period for related activity. 

NYC residents protest over policing in subway system as a stop to fare evasion
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES – 2019/11/01: Hundreds of protesters took over a subway platform in Brooklyn. Over a thousand people filled main avenues as they marched through downtown Brooklyn to voice their outrage at the conduct of the NYPD, protesting what they see as police brutality. The march came several days after a video emerged on social media showing NYPD officers fighting with teenagers inside city subway stations. (Photo by Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

According to estimates, fare evasion will cost the city approximately $300 million this year, but advocates say targeting poorer communities, which the NYPD officers in their suit maintain is who they were encouraged to arrest in Brooklyn, is only criminalizing poverty.

“You are stopping too many Russian and Chinese,” one of the former officers told the NYT that commander Constantin Tsachas’s told him. “I got tired of hunting Black and Hispanic people because of arrest quotas,” another former officer, said in an affidavit, which was obtained by the paper. He retired from the force in 2015.

At least six people have come forward to offer an affidavit on the unfair policing practices employed by Inspector Tsachas, who was promoted even after original claims surfaced regarding his treatment of minorities. 

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