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News :: Labor
NYC Black Transit Worker Hounded to Death by Cops, Company, Courts - Darryl Goodwin: We Will Not Forget
30 Aug 2017

Workers Vanguard No. 1116 25 August 2017

NYC Transit Worker Hounded to Death by Cops, Company, Courts

Darryl Goodwin: We Will Not Forget

NEW YORK—After working 27 years in station booths across the city’s sprawling subway system, 54-year-old Darryl Goodwin was looking forward to retirement later this year. According to fellow station agents, he was a respected and popular “gentle giant” who helped “break in” and train scores of new hires. “I’ll show you the company way and I’ll show you my way,” Goodwin told them, “then you decide.” Every day, he went face to face with surly customers, cruel supervisors, cops and criminals, achieving the near impossible: a spotless work record. But in the end, Darryl Goodwin was hounded to death by the racist NYPD, the ruthless New York City Transit (NYCT) bosses and the capitalist courts. Stressed to his limits, aggravated by high blood pressure and other health issues, Goodwin died alone in his apartment on August 11. Ten days later, some 200 transit workers, family and friends turned out to his funeral to honor him.

When Goodwin’s co-workers and friends learned of his sudden death, their deep sadness quickly mixed with anger. Goodwin’s untimely death could only be explained by what he was forced to endure after the cops arrested him on May 16 and threw him in jail overnight. He was hit with frame-up charges and then suspended without pay by the NYCT bosses, and not reinstated until late June. The NYPD launched its vendetta because Goodwin, who was working in a booth in the bustling Columbus Circle station, did not open a subway gate fast enough for cops who were chasing an alleged shoplifter.

In fact, Goodwin was following company procedure, and opened the gate as soon as he verified who wanted access. The cops charged him anyway with obstructing government administration, resisting arrest and causing injury to a police officer (who ridiculously claimed he was cut by Goodwin’s employee badge). As the Partisan Defense Committee wrote in a July 22 protest letter to the District Attorney: “Pursuing these bogus charges is clearly a vendetta against a black transit worker who was not sufficiently servile as far as the police were concerned.”

One day before Goodwin’s death, around 50 members of Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 and other supporters at a Manhattan courtroom hearing for this case stood up in unison when Goodwin’s name was called. They were sending a clear message to the judge that Goodwin did not stand alone, that he was innocent, and that all the charges against him should be dropped. This act of solidarity was a repeat of what happened at his first court hearing on June 29 (see “Drop All Charges Against Darryl Goodwin! NYPD Targets Transit Worker,” WV No. 1115, 28 July). But this time Goodwin was too ill to make it to the courthouse. The turnout showed not only that Goodwin was a beloved co-worker, but also that his persecution struck a chord among many transit workers, who are all too familiar from personal experience with the NYPD’s arrogance and brutality.

When it was announced at the June 29 court hearing that Goodwin was going back to work, his fellow workers cheered. The real story is that Goodwin, financially desperate to get back to work and afraid that the company could take away his entire pension if fired, agreed to a penalty of some 60 days without pay. This is how the transit bosses’ system of “plantation justice” works.

In an online statement mourning Goodwin’s death, the vice president of Local 100’s Stations Division, Derrick Echevarria, stated, “We believe this unwarranted arrest had an underlying affect on his demise. Darryl was stressed out and working a lot of overtime to recover the wages he lost. He should have never been arrested.” This is absolutely true. It also underscores how the NYCT bosses worked in lockstep with the NYPD to crush this black transit worker. The union statement noted that the TWU and Goodwin’s family will work to have his name cleared. We join them in demanding: Clear Darryl Goodwin’s name!

Responding to pressure from below, TWU Local 100 officials made some minimal efforts to defend Goodwin. But several workers told Workers Vanguard that they were angry that the union did not pay for his lawyer and let the company financially strangle and blackmail him. The cops went after Goodwin just for doing his job. Contrary to what Local 100 officials claim, such brutality is no aberration; it’s what the cops routinely do as the enforcers of racist capitalist rule.

We will not forget Darryl Goodwin and what the cops, the company and the courts put him through. TWU Local 100 must fight to ensure that what happened to him never happens again!

This work is in the public domain
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