“I climb over the subway turnstiles in protest. Why blacks yes and me in a suit and tie no?”

“I climb over the subway turnstiles in protest. Why blacks yes and me in a suit and tie no?”
“I climb over the subway turnstiles in protest. Why blacks yes and me in a suit and tie no?”

The reader will excuse the story in the first person. But sometimes it is from individual cases that small civil battles can arise, indeed of civil disobedience. Such as the Free turnstile – «free turnstile» – which I intend to launch starting today.

Everything, however, happened yesterday.

Milan, June, a normal day of the week, indeed almost evening: about 8.30 pm. I leave the Journal, whose headquarters is – the nemesis of history – Via Gaetano Negri, a toponym that will unfortunately soon be transformed into Via Gaetano Neri. I get off on the subway, Cordusio stop. I don’t have a new ticket, it’s hot, I’m late for another appointment, the newsstand is closed, there are two self-service machines. Appealing to all my patience and my notoriously exemplary civic sense, I queue up, waiting for my turn. Then, suddenly, I notice two black people who with absolute calm, talking in front of the ATM booth, where there are two station agents, jump the turnstiles. And they walk placidly towards the stairs that lead to the tracks.

To head.

I take a breath. With a self-control of which I am proud, with the same tranquility as theirs, I abandon my queue at the machine, approach the booth, clap my hand on the glass, point to the two who are already descending the stairs, and scream, risking the Mancino law: ” The two blacks jumped the turnstiles. I jump too! ». Which I do. Not without a certain elegance, although many years have passed since I brought glory and medals to the high school athletics team, obstacle course specialty.

Anyway. Immediately I think of a reaction of the two agents, among the tasks of which there is also – I read from the Atm regulation – the “Verification of compliance with all the rules of customer behavior” and the “Verification of travel documents and management of any infringements “. Instead nothing. They do not come out of the booth. They don’t check the tickets for either the two blacks or me. They don’t fine anyone.

Hypothesis. The station agents have an unwritten order not to intervene against potentially dangerous subjects: either in order not to risk aggression or not to trigger uncontrolled reactions. Or: at this moment, thanks to the cameras, the ATM is already on the trail of the offenders – them and me – and we will soon all be duly sanctioned (easier that it will only happen to me, who am self-reporting). Or the thing is so widespread, and accepted, that it does not constitute a problem for the transport company, and for the Municipality of Milan. Or again, the infringement is accepted with fatalism for some categories of people, and I represent only a curious exception.

The fact remains that, as a non-regular but not even an occasional frequenter of the underground network, I have never seen, apart from myself, fifty-year-old gentlemen in suits and ties jump the turnstiles, or ladies in sandals. But only boys, of color or Latinos or Roma (can you write “Latinos”? And “Roma”?). Yes, come on: even some Italians …

And here is my very personal form of protest to sensitize the ATM and the Municipality of Milan on the issues of civil rights and racism. To combat a very unpleasant form of discrimination – only they can jump the turnstiles without consequences: why not me? – from tonight, every time I have to use the subway network, I will skip the turnstiles. I do not want and cannot be considered different from them.

Free turnstile!


The article is in Italian

Tags: climb subway turnstiles protest blacks suit tie

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