Fare evaders hold protest at Chinatown; police arrive too late to take any action

A fare-hike protest that began outside the Park Street T stop this evening ended at Chinatown station on the Orange Line, where 25 protesters held open the fare gates on the inbound side and cheered when maybe 10 people went through the open gates - although some pressed their Charlie Cards to the readers anyway.

An MBTA CSA stood discretely in the distance as the evasion went on. An Oak Grove train came into the station and the protesters got on. Just as the train pulled out of the station, a contingent of T cops arrived.

MBTA copsMBTA cops show up just as protesters' train leaves.

To get from Park Street to Chinatown, the protesters marched through Downtown Crossing. At Washington and Winter, they briefly stopped to protest. "Mic check!," one woman yelled. "Downtown Crossing, are you listening?" For the most part, no, Downtown Crossing wasn't listening; people just continued on their way.



Free tagging: 



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You know, I really think they got their point across. I'm sure the T is reconsidering the fare hikes already. The bandanas over their faces was a nice touch.

I recall years ago when I hopped on the green line on comm ave there would be much more fare evasion going on than this protest appears to have had.

Disappointed in this reporting, Adam

How dare you pervert the meaning of the word "protest" by attaching that label to this?

Actually, based on the way the guy in the center of the shot is positioned on the fare gate, "erotic fantasy" might be a more appropriate label.


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Who would have thought that a fare hike protest would take place at a subway station. The T police were at Park street with their bicycles , motorcycles , helicopters. They never expected fare hike protestors to take the subway.


1. Say you are going to hold a certain type of protest that will attract cops - like, any protest these days. It is that reek of over time pay ...

2. Show up and engage in legal leafleting activities that draw attention at a busy station.

3. Cops, news, helicopters all show up because there is no such thing as a small protest now that Homeland Security has told our police forces that 1st amendment actions are "low level terrorist activity".

4. Who needs to jump fare gate?

I suspect that this all went so well at Park Street - the getting attention - that nobody needed to do anything illegal to make the point. Then, a small number of disappointed purists felt the need to go "liberate" another station.

Good theory, but no, didn't happen that way

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Guess I should've written a more detailed report! This was no rump action, it was the whole megillah.

Hair guyHair guyA little after 6, the couple dozen protesters set up their protest circle roughly in between the two Park Street entrances and began their speechifying and gesticulating toward the State House and huzzahing or sneering as appropriate and waving their anarchy flags, etc., as a couple of T cops (one officer, one supervisor) watched from about 20 feet away.

They never blocked either entrance (except for about 5 seconds, more on that below) and never attempted to enter the station. And to the extent that almost nobody stopped to listen to them, the protest was kind of a failure (Pigeon Lady, of course, ignored them completely, thumbing through a copy of the Globe's g while the protest was going on, occasionally and lazily shaking her money can).

After a couple of speeches, Mr. Hair Guy, one of the protest's leaders, said something like "Who's ready for some action?!?" Everybody rushed in front of the entrance closest to Tremont Street and then, after 5 seconds, crossed Tremont and marched down Winter. At Washington, they paused briefly to speechify some more and to be ignored some more, and then headed down Washington toward Chinatown.

I'm sure the T police dispatcher knew which way they were going, since they marched right past a T patrol car, occupied by a cop on his radio. At the entrance to the Oak Grove side of the Chinatown stop, they went downstairs, to be met by a CSA who did nothing to try to stop them (being outnumbered, why should he?), and they staged their little agitprop theater until the train came a couple minutes later and they all got on and no doubt felt pretty damn good about their protesty selves as they watched three or four T cops arrive just as they were pulling out (my question: Did the cops just get faked out by the protesters or did they deliberately wait until they were on the train so as not to create some made-for-TV drama while cameras were rolling?)

I have no clue what happened next, since we didn't get on the train with them and, at that point, the kidlet had had her fill of protesting for the day, so we went upstairs so I could tweet a photo and then we could head on home on the other side of the tracks.

Ahh, okay

Nobody paid attention so they simply rode themselves out of town on a rail.

MBTA employee performed his duties

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I just wanted to notify you that the MBTA employee did call on his radio to me to request the Transit Police. He did the right thing by keeping his distance and reported the situation and made a request for the Transit Police who were very quick to respond. I just wanted to clarify that he performed his duties instead of people thinking that he just stood there and looked the other way.

There was an episode of the

There was an episode of the old Barney Miller television series in which a guy walked into the precinct house and announced that he was coming in from living on the run and giving himself up to the FBI. When Barney asked him what he was wanted for, he said "I ended the Viet Nam War!" It took a while, but they finally figured out that he had been issued a $25 citation at an anti-war protest.

Why am I thinking of that now?


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Growing up is sometimes hard to do.

A Tale of Two Cities

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If 25 teenagers of color wore hoodies and masks around their faces and took over a train station and performed the same stunt the Police would have been ordered to the station pronto and to arrest on sight.

What I find disturbing

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I'm ambivalent about the fare increase, but I support their right to protest it.

What's disturbing is the number of folks on this site who are attacking them for any number of ridiculous reasons. There's the cowardly anonymous trolls who sit in their mother's basement while making idiotic cracks -- that's expected. But also the regular users, who can't quite seem to understand what a protest is; that not every protest is going to be perfect, or something you agree with. It's sad that I had to explain "Civil Disobedience" to someone in the previous post.

This is the United States of America. If you don't like freedom of expression and petition of grievances, then you'll be happier living in Communist China where everyone keeps their head down.

How dare people have comments

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How dare people have comments that you dont agree with. What is this Soviet Russia?!

Get some reading comprehension

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Criticism is different from repression.

Some of the cowardly posters on this site want to shut down the protesters and have them arrested for expressing their opinion.

But when I criticize them for this attitude, people like you start crying.

But that's their opinion

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But that's their opinion right?! I'm not defending anyone I just think your comments are silly. You are them just on a different side of the spectrum.

See the guy

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with the bandana over this face?

this isn't a protest, it's thuggery and cowardice.

anyways, that's a nice straw hut you've built. It's a shame a little wind will blow it over.

My question: how many of these imbeciles have ever bothered to be part of or work through legitimate political processes? How many of them got involved with supporting a candidate and knocking on doors and changing minds? How many took time to met with their representatives?

This isn't about protest, or politics. It's about our little anarchists own little egos. Which is why people are pissed. Cause a self serving, selfish dopamine rush isn't going to change the world.

I knock on doors

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And talk to people, support candidates and meet with politicians. But that's not the only way. And what does the clothing he's wearing have to do with "thuggery and cowardice?"

People get too worked up about fare evasion. The cost to society is virtually nil. The moral outrage is way out of proportion.

Anonymity has its purposes and adherents

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Honestly, unless you were trying to get arrested as part of the protest why wouldn't you want to be anonymous when committing a criminal act?

As for internet anonymity, I do IT consulting for law firms, I routinely see people's online actions used against them in legal proceedings.

For example,the amount of personal information some UH posters divulge could easily lead to a connection between their account and their true identity.

And then everything they've posted could be used against them by an adverse party. Perhaps not in court but certainly in say, strategic planning for litigation.

And that's all legal. Never mind what a criminal could do.

There are many more concerns, which I'll leave unsaid.

it was not my word choice,

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it was not my word choice, but I can only assume the "thuggery" is the service they are stealing by obstructing and potentially damaging the machinery that is intended to aid in collection of fare.

The "cowardice" are the bandanas covering their faces, which are there presumedly out of fear of identification and repercussions after the fact. In other words, they don't want their faces in the paper and the tv--if they truly believed their cause was just I imagine they wouldn't feel the need for those.

In the end I'm totally against this self-defeating and poorly-planned protest, but if it means there were 10 people less at critical mass then i guess I'll take it.

Yes And No

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People get too worked up about fare evasion. The cost to society is virtually nil. The moral outrage is way out of proportion.

Cost to society is virtually nil? Maybe, maybe not. Other folks who may not have had the cojones to do the fare evasion thing may feel empowered to do so as they see others doing it and getting away with it. Same sort of thing happens with dope smoking, "odd" fashions, newer musical styles, etc., and societal "norms" gradually change and a tipping point is reached where the former antisocial behavior is seen as normal. An isolated incident comes up virtually nil. If there are more incidents, and viewpoints change, then no, not nil.

(Please note the argument is not a value judgment concerning fare evasion itself. Just trying to show that "nil" may not be the case, right?)

As for the moral outrage - and this is where I'll gladly make a value judgment - I don't think it's out of proportion in any way. When folks who obey the law and pay the fare are presented with folks who disobey the same law and don't pay the fare, how would you expect them to react? By carrying on with a smile as they are being told, in effect, that they are chumps? It's basically a personal insult, isn't it?


Marginal costs

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Seeing that a train or bus is going to run anyway, on a fixed schedule, the marginal cost of an additional passenger is nearly zero.

Overall, if said rider means one less car on the road, then I stipulate that the cost to society is negative, even if they evade the fare.

That's where I'm coming from. Of course, this analysis only applies to isolated incidents. In the extreme case, fare revenues drop to zero, and the T loses a third of its funding. Which may be acceptable, actually, given that there are advocates of free public transit out there. Though, I'm not one of them; I think it's prudent to ask for at least a nominal fare in order to prevent abuse.

But supposing that you want to keep the fare revenue flowing, then the most cost effective way is to simply accept that there will be losses due to evasion. Then you apply inspections to selected locations, and dispense fines in accordance with expected value -- ensuring that you do not produce a net loss by catching offenders than you would have lost by letting them go.

Of course, the T would rather cut off its nose to spite its face.

You sound just like Geraldo

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You sound just like Geraldo Rivera of Fox (Faux)News when he said hoodies make you a thug. It's pretty common in protests to cover your face with bandannas, masks, etc. for the dramatic effect, but also because a lot of people have jobs that could be at risk if they were caught protesting or they just want to be anonymous (like you yourself are right now).
The point of Occupy and a lot of other recent protests is that our country's political process has been distorted to the point where it's democratic integrity is questionable or even nonexistent. Therefore working through the system which requires acceptance and support of the perversion of our political system would be hugely hypocritical.
Did you know that the Arab Spring was kicked off by a man named Mohamed Bouazizi protesting the police taking his street cart? Was that self serving? Certainly. Was it selfish? Sure. Did it change the world? Obviously.
Although I think this protest was pathetic, I think your absurd generalizations are far more pathetic.

And no

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Our political process isn't distorted. Just because you don't get your way, doesn't mean the process is broken or illegitimate. That a common call of both the Greens, LeRouches, and militant parties. And it's a lie to make them feel better about being on the fringe politically.

The problem is no one fucking participates. And no one wants to lift a finger, and do the heavy work to build constituencies that vote each and every election for the things that matter.

The Tea Party congress didn't subvert democracy. They rode in on the apathy of a bunch of hipster douchebags that forgot Nov of 2010 was an election year.

Yes, I do

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They may be revered now as patriots, but it's not like anyone boasted about what they did at the time, or even demanded to be punished for their actions, so yes, they're petty criminals.

The Tea Party wasn't very impressive in the first place. As far as I'm concerned, the burning of the Gaspee was a more more significant event. Of course that took place outside of MA, so it's probably not covered in the schools. And, no, that wasn't civil disobedience either, but at least the participants weren't in disguise.

What always gets me

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is the common knowledge history of our state is butchered in grade schools around the country, even sadly here in the Commonwealth.

Ask most people what the Boston Tea Party was about, and they'd tell you taxes. That answer couldn't be further from the truth if it tried.

The correct answer is the repeal of Tariffs on East India Tea Company.

Yup, the colonials of Boston were a bunch of protectionist, tariff loving anti-free trade, anti large corporation scoundrels; who were displeased at a lack of representation in British Parliament to block the repeal of tariffs on cheap EITC tea.

Personally I think the forced garrisoning British soldiers among the colonists private homes, and general douchbaggery of the crowns political hand in the colony was more of an issue.

I Saw Them Downtown

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There were about a dozen of them with literally half acting as photographers and videographers to document themselves. Slogans, unidentifiable flags, and signs written on trash and refuse (not kidding) were all on display. Despite the fact that all 12 of them were ablse to stand within four feet of one another, they used the occupy boston mic check thing so every vague "people's transit" talking point was shouted twice. After the speaking program, they applauded by patting themselves on the back. The cops didn't have to hustle to cite them because there were so few of them that the "protest" was irrelevant and acting on it might actually have made someone notice it. Sometimes I am ashamed to be a liberal.

Relevance is the key point. I

Relevance is the key point.

I wonder how many protests these folks go to before they figure out that what they are doing doesn't amount to a hill of beans?