Protesters shut down an Upper East Side subway station Saturday afternoon with a dramatic demonstration for Jordan Neely, the Michael Jackson impersonator strangled by another passenger on an (F) train this week, by climbing down from the platform on the train bed. One protester bounced on the protective shroud surrounding the electrified third rail, oblivious to the life-threatening danger beneath his feet.
“DON’T GET ON THE RAIL! DON’T GET ON THE RAIL!” a woman off-camera shouts at the man in a light green shirt emblazoned with the image of Marxist Revolutionary Che Guevara in a harrowing moment caught on video inside the 63rd Street-Lexington Avenue subway station by independent journalist Talia Jane.
“IT’S ELECTRIFIED! THERE’S A TRAIN ON THE TRACKS WHICH MEANS IT’S ELECTRIFIED!” the unseen woman continues.
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The mayhem began when approximately 100 demonstrators chanting “No Justice! No peace!” flooded the Upper East Side subway station after 6:00 pm. Once underground on the station platform, protesters held the doors open to an (F) train, preventing it from leaving the station, according to Jane.
Holy shit. Protestors stopped the F train by holding the doors open and while cops were trying to get them out of the doors, others jumped on the tracks on the opposing side. pic.twitter.com/70x8x2sXws— Talia Jane (@taliaotg) May 6, 2023
During the commotion, Jane’s video shows roughly a dozen protesters jumping down onto the tracks on the opposite side of the platform, waving at their comrades to join them down — two headlights from a (Q) train visible from the dark tunnel in the distance.
The MTA tells Upper East Site that at 6:12 pm, the operator of that (Q) train reported seeing the crowd on the tracks as it was trying to pull into the station with some 450 passengers on board.
At 6:21 pm, crews cut power to the train tracks inside the station, according to the agency, which provided Upper East Site with a timeline of events.
Just before 6:30 pm, the MTA announced the suspension of (Q) train service between 57th Street-Seventh Avenue and 96th Street-Second Avenue and (F) trains between Rockefeller Center and Queens, blaming “people being disruptive” at the UES subway station.
Jane, known for her on-the-ground coverage of social justice movements and extremism in New York City, reports that cops arrested six people while clearing dozens of demonstrators from the tracks, with several more cuffed above ground. The NYPD could not immediately provide a total number of arrests.
Subway service wouldn’t resume until just before 7:00 pm when police finally removed everyone from the dangerous location.
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“Jumping on tracks is dangerous, reckless and can be life-threatening,” said NYC Transit President Richard Davey in response to an inquiry from Upper East Site.
“While peaceful protest has always been part of the American fabric, endangering transit workers and other responders, while also delaying New Yorkers just trying to get where they need to go, by deliberately risking contact with an electrified third rail, is unacceptable,” Davey added.
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the Che shirt says it all.
He had over 40 arrests (should have been in jail). Was homeless and had mental problems (his family comes out now after he’s killed because they smell money from a lawsuit). Where are the cops on the train? The man who tried to stop him from hurting more people was/is a Marine and this is how they’re trained. I’m sorry the guy was killed, but it was accidental and I’m sure he didn’t get on the train saying I’m going to kill somebody today.
The NYT Roxane Gay had an article that expressed disdain at subway riders feeling “uncomfortable” over this type of erratic, hostile behavior. I was extremely heartened to see that in the comments section, the overwhelming majority (2000-4000 to 8) of people seemed to disagree with her and were in support of the vigilante, while acknowledging the overall terrible situation.
I think the vast majority of New Yorkers would have felt threatened and afraid of the situation.