DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — On Friday night packed with anger and emotion, over 1,000 people marched and protested against police brutality and the crackdown on MTA’s fare evasion.
The large protest at One MetroTech Center was in response to the videos of black teenagers being punched in the subway by cops, and Adrien Naper, the black teenager who was arrested on the subway at gunpoint. People held signs that said “NYPD out of the subway” and chanted things like “Ante up, fuck that cop.”
After the protest, Borough President Eric Adams went on to Twitter to say, “I’ve protested against aggressive policing for decades. What I saw last night went beyond an acceptable protest. Spitting on cops, defacing vehicles with graffiti, and chanting ‘fuck the police’ does not make this city we love any safer or more just.”
For the two hours that Bklyner stayed to cover the protest, it was peaceful and we did not see people spitting on cops and vandalizing vehicles. Rather, the “fuck the police” chants were shouted by the thousands of people who felt angry and not heard. One protestor, Keisha Latif, told Bklyner that she’s tired of staying quiet.
“This happens all the time. We were just lucky this time that Adrien wasn’t shot or killed. But what if he was? This isn’t a one-time thing,” she said. “I get why people say we shouldn’t chant things like this, but what else can we do? How else can I express this anger I am feeling? I am not hurting anybody like the cops are. I am just standing here and losing my voice.”
Many people blamed Governor Andrew Cuomo, who back in June, deployed 500 officers to subway stations across the city. At a press conference a few days earlier, Adams called on the NYPD to place an officer who assaulted teenagers at the local subway station on “modified assignment pending further investigation.”
At one point during the protest, one protestor “grabbed” the mic and led a chant only for Black people.
“You will never allow the racist state to abuse your people. You will never allow the racist state to teach your children. You will never allow the racist state to play with your children. No basketball. No pizza parties. No therapy sessions. No rap sessions. No DJ sessions. No afterschool. No talking to your mama. And always remember, no snitching,” she said and people chanted back. “The police are never Black people’s friends. Even the Black ones. Even the ones of color.”
One of the organizers shouted, “This is not a march. This is a fucking wake-up call to the city.”
When the protestors started to march at the end of the night, videos surfaced of them jumping turnstiles and chanting in the subway. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to say, “Ending mass incarceration means challenging a system that jails the poor to free the rich. Arresting people who can’t afford a $2.75 fare makes no one safer and destabilizes our community. New Yorkers know that, they’re not having it, and they’re standing up for each other.”
When the sun had set and Downtown Brooklyn was dark, Napier stood on the pole and looked across the crowd that had formed. People began to shout, “Adrien’s life matters!” His message? “No matter how many times they kick us down, we get right up.”
“My message today is hope,” he said later. “Hope for a better future. I love you.”