A Video Captures a Searing Portrait of the Subway, and of the City Above

It always seems to start the same way.

I’ll beat you up!

A brush-fire confrontation between strangers in a subway loudly skyrockets toward hostility before anyone else is even sure who is yelling at whom, or why.

C’mon man! Do something about it!

A moment so familiar that other passengers hardly bother to look up from their phones or pause their conversations.

I’m gonna beat you up — only you. Just you.

But a fight on Thursday on a speeding A train in Brooklyn that started with those taunts did not end there. It continued to escalate before a rush-hour crowd, from words to fists to a blade to, finally, a gun.

The encounter came just over a week after New York’s governor took the extraordinary step of ordering the National Guard below ground to make the trains feel safer. The shooting undermined the city’s message that riding the subway is, statistically speaking, quite safe.

The episode fueled a sense of futility about a system that seems to catch all the troubles from the city above — mental health crises, illegal guns — and squeezes them into crowded steel tubes.

For those on that A train on Thursday, some with small children by their side, no city statistic is likely to bring comfort. Send the police, send in the Guard — many have come to believe that, regardless, the subway’s going to be the subway.

Back to top button