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Saturday, March 25, 2023

MTA Seeks Traveler Ban Following Assault on Transit Worker

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York has announced it will be urging that Alexander Wright, who is facing charges of felony assault in the second degree, assault in the third degree and harassment in the second degree following an attack on NYC Transit Cleaner Anthony Nelson, be banned from the MTA’s subways, commuter railroads, buses, or other conveyances or facilities.  

MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber intends to send a letter to Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark requesting that upon conviction, a judge issue an order banning Wright from the transit system for three years, the maximum penalty available under the law.  

“Attacks on transit workers are unacceptable and we must do everything we can to prevent them and keep our customers and employees safe,” said Chair Lieber. “Given the horrific actions of Mr. Wright and his long history of arrests — some of which were for similarly violent attacks — this penalty is warranted. Individuals who assault transit workers have no place on our subways, buses, and trains.” 

“No one’s job description should include looking over their shoulder in fear of being assaulted,” said NYC Transit President Richard Davey. “While we will continue to work with our law enforcement and legal partners, we cannot stand idly by as these assaults continue. The message behind the ban we are seeking is simple: if you prove to be a danger to New Yorkers, you should not be allowed back into the transit system, period.”  

“We are tired of seeing our members get assaulted daily for no good reason,” said TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano. “Prosecutors and judges must hold people accountable for their actions and ensure that transit workers can do their job safely.”  

Nelson was assaulted at the Pelham Bay Park 6 station on August 11, 2022, after receiving a report that Wright was harassing customers outside of the station. When Nelson went to assist the riders, he was viciously attacked from behind.  

Wright’s record includes at least 13 prior arrests, some of them within the transit system. Wright was arrested three times on the same day, May 10, 2021, for two assaults and criminal mischief resulting in property damage. 

Davey visited Nelson in hospital on August 13 and said he has been an excellent employee. “Anthony has been a model employee who was viciously attacked while attempting to help fellow New Yorkers who were being harassed by an emotionally disturbed person outside Pelham Park Station. We are wishing him a speedy recovery and urge the Bronx District Attorney to prosecute this unprovoked crime to the fullest extent. Someone with dozens of priors should not be free to harass subway riders and brutally attack the employees who make this city move. This reprehensible conduct has to end now.”

Nelson himself will not be deterred from standing up for innocent travelers. “You can’t turn a blind eye to helping people,” he said from his hospital bed. “We need to be considerate to fellow New Yorkers. I would do it again.”

At the end of June, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation intended to protect roughly 11,000 more transit workers against assault and harassment. The bill will expand current law that charges individuals who attack or harass transit workers with second degree assault. It will extend criminal charges to individuals who assault station customer assistants, ticket or revenue collectors, maintenance workers, repairers, cleaners, and their supervisors, who are not protected by existing law. 

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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