Taxi and Black Car Drivers Speak Out on Video of Detective Berating Fellow Driver and Call for Policing Reforms

For Immediate Release:  April 3, 2015
For more information, please contact: Bhairavi Desai: 718-706-9892 or media@nytwa.org

Taxi and Black Car Drivers Speak Out on Video of Detective Berating Fellow Driver and Call for Policing Reforms

Friday, April 3, 2015 at 11:00am
Corner of 31st Street and 7th Avenue, Penn Station

Taxi and Black Car Drivers and community allies rally for systemic changes to NYPD policing of drivers, most recently brought to light in a video where Detective Patrick Cherry was caught berating a black car driver, threatened arrest and summonsed Mr. Humayun for three moving violations.  Detective Cherry was stripped of his badge and gun after the video made by the passengers went viral on social media.  New York Taxi Workers Alliance and United We Stand say they are gathering to tell the story of what happens when there is no video to capture their plight.
 
“In the face of Mr. Humayun, we see the faces of over 100,000 licensed taxi, black, green and livery cab drivers.  The day to day story for drivers is the economic impact that follows racist, humiliating incidents like this.  The driver would go to court over unjustly issued moving violations and be vulnerable to over $1,000 in fines and points on the license.  With just six points, the TLC license is suspended up to 30 days and with 10 or more, the license is revoked and drivers are banned from re-entry for three years.  Hundreds of drivers lose their livelihood every single year because of unfair ticketing for non-safety violations,” said New York Taxi Workers Alliance Executive Director Bhairavi Desai.
 
"As drivers we are working long hours for minimal pay to help our families and serve this city.  Unjustified summonses and tickets are constantly being imposed on us. This has to stop,” demanded Syed Armughan, of United We Stand, a black car drivers’ organization.
 
Organizers said they selected Penn Station for their action as it’s especially fraught with unfair ticketing.  “I know drivers who got tickets every time they were here to drop off a fare and some were even revoked because of those tickets.  When the police pull us over all the time, it puts in the public’s mind that drivers are dangerous.  But we are the safest drivers on the street and we are hard-working people.  We look to the police for protection, no one should have to work in fear from them,” said Asim Akhtar who has been driving a taxi for 10 years.
 
The drivers were joined in support by community allies who said the anti-immigrant tirade resonated all too well with the larger South Asian community.  “We want the NYPD to know that the community stands with the workers in this industry and echoes their demand for an end to the harassment and all-too-common demonizing of taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers,” said Ali Najmi, Political Director of the Alliance of South Asian American Labor (ASAAL).

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