New York police allegedly arrested two men for “manspreading” (sitting with their legs far apart) on the subway, according to a report entitled “That’s How They Get You” released by the Police Reform Organizing Project.
“On a recent visit to the arraignment part in Brooklyn’s criminal court, PROP volunteers observed that police officers had arrested two Latino men on the charge of ‘man spreading’ on the subway, presumably because they were taking up more than one seat and therefore inconveniencing other riders,” the report states.
Metro Transit Authority rules ban people from taking up more than one seat “in a station, platform or conveyance when to do so would interfere or tend to interfere with the operation of the Authority’s transit system or the comfort of other passengers.”
MTA also placed signs on subway cars in December instructing people not to “manspread” as part of a larger campaign to encourage riders to be polite, which also included signs telling people not to hog poles or do their makeup on the train. The “no manspreading” rule in particular, however, got most of the publicity after feminist activists attacked “manspreading” as being not just rude and/or annoying but actually oppressive to women.
Now there’s no doubt that some dude taking up enough room for two people on a crowded train is annoying — but the report claims that the arrests occurred late at night, when the train probably would have been pretty empty:
“Before issuing an [adjournment contemplating dismissal] for both men, the judge expressed her skepticism about the charge because of the time of the arrests: ‘12:11AM, I can’t believe there were many people on the subway.”
#related#Of course, even if the train was super crowded, it seems as though simply asking the men to move over might have been a more reasonable option. As the report itself also notes, however, our current system demands that officers meet quotas and therefore directly discourages them from seeking other solutions to problems — whether or not those would be reasonable. In fact, the report even claims that in some cases officers had admitted that the quota policy was their reason for making an arrest.
All-in-all, the report listed nearly 120 allegations of abuse, including one claim that a Latino teenager was charged for having a backpack next to him on the train, and that officers “arrested him — cuffed and confined him overnight — when they ran a check and found that he had an outstanding warrant for skateboarding in a Middle Village, Queens park after dark.”
PROP president Robert Gangi told Newsweek that the organization’s staff and volunteers had observed arraignments for misdemeanors in four of the city’s five boroughs since June 2014 over the course of about 35 sessions lasting a few hours. The observers found, according to the report, that “out of the 850 total cases seen, 797, or about 94 percent, of the defendants were people of color. 756 people, or 89 percent, of the persons arrested or ticketed were able to walk out of the courtroom.”
— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.
Editor’s Note: This piece has been amended since its initial posting.