MTA to pursue network ban after subway worker assaulted
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) intends to seek a three-year ban, the highest allowed by law, against an Alexander Wright who has been charged with second-degree felony assault, third-degree assault and of second-degree harassment following an Aug. 11 attack by New York City Transit cleaner Anthony Nelson.
Nelson, who allegedly left Pelham Bay Tube station with a colleague following reports of customers being harassed outside the station, was attacked and broke his collarbone and nose. Nelson and his colleague were able to detain the man who attacked him until authorities arrived. Nelson spent days in the hospital and underwent surgery to treat his injuries.
In addition to the current charges, Wright has a record of at least 13 prior arrests — some of them on the transit system, as well as three in a single day for two assaults and criminal mischief resulting in property damage.
If Wright is convicted on the current charges, MTA President and CEO Janno Lieber has said he intends to ask a judge to order Wright’s ban from the transit system for three years, which is the maximum penalty.
“Attacks on transit workers are unacceptable and we must do everything we can to prevent them and keep our customers and employees safe,” Lieber said. “Given the horrific actions of Mr. Wright and his long history of arrests – including some for equally violent attacks – this sentence is warranted. People who attack transit workers have no place on our subways, buses and trains.
NYC Transit President Richard Davey, who visited Nelson in the hospital after the assault, said no one’s job description should include looking over their shoulder in fear.
“While we continue to work with our law enforcement and legal partners, we cannot sit idly by as these attacks continue. The message behind the ban we seek is simple: if you prove yourself to be a danger to New Yorkers, you should not be allowed to return to the public transit system, period,” Davey said.
In June, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation expanding protections for transit workers from assault. Bill extends protections to station customer assistants, ticket or revenue collectors, maintenance workers and supervisors employed by transit agencies or authorities who work with and among the public and allows second-degree assault charges to be brought against those who physically harm transit workers. .
TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano said, “We are tired of seeing our members being attacked on a daily basis for no good reason. Prosecutors and judges must hold people accountable for their actions and ensure transit workers can do their jobs safely.