Man spreading arrests raise concerns of broken windows policing in NYC
At least two men have been arrested for "man spreading" on the MTA. But it might not be such a great thing afterall. Police Reform Organizing Project’s report “That's How They Get You” presents 117 vignettes from New Yorkers from across the city "who have experienced and endured disrespect and abuse" at the hands of the NYPD. The organization's focus is to highlight "discriminatory and abusive practices of the NYPD, that routinely and disporpotionally low-income communities and people of color." Not surprisingly in the report most of these encounters with the NYPD involve interactions with people of color, largely black and latino. Gothamist dug up the following nugget regarding two Latino men who were arrested for “man spreading” on the train.
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. 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.”
The arrest is part of a larger "broken windows" policing policy that surmises that if you crack down on smaller offenses such as public drinking, public urination, and yes "man spreading," you've created an atmosphere of lawfulness and larger crimes won't happen. Naturally, there are critics of the theory, and it's been contested when brought up against controversial decisions made by the NYPD including its "stop and frisk" program and the series of events that lead up to the death of Eric Garner.