New York City – Copycat Shoe Protester Aimed At MTA Official Loses His Job

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    New York City Transit fare-hike protester was arrested yesterday at an MTA board meeting after he appeared to threaten to hurl his shoe at a top transit executive.  The outburst was in protest of the very unpopular 2009 transit budget that features insane fare hikes and service cuts.
New York City – When President Bush ducked an Iraqi reporter’s footwear, a man in Queens got an idea. The transit rider wanted to grab the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s attention.

    He did, but he got more than he bargained for.

    “And one more thing, where is Elliot Sanders?” Stephen Millies said during an MTA public hearing on Wednesday.

    Then, just as he said, “Mr. Sanders, this is for you,” Millies was tackled.

    Millies said he was just trying to show the MTA his shoe — when he got the boot. The 54-year-old was hauled away in handcuffs and cited for intending to cause “public annoyance.”

    “What’s the point of having one of these public hearings unless you can annoy some of these $300,000 bureaucrats? Annoyance is not a crime,” Millies said.

    Whether or not it’s a crime, he appears to be facing an unexpected punishment.

    Millie’s protest got him thrown out of the meeting. It got him into the headlines. But when he showed up for work the next day at Sunnyside Yard in Queens, his employer, Amtrak, told him to go home.

    “I have no idea why because I was just exercising my first amendment rights of freedom of speech,” Millies said.

    The New York Civil Liberties Union said as an Amtrak employee Millies actually works for the government. And because of that:

    “If Amtrak suspends Millies because of his protest, ultimately, he could sue them for violating his constitutional rights,” said Chris Dunn of the NYCLU.

    Amtrak declined repeated requests for comment.

    Straphangers are understanding of Millies’ frustration but divided on his tactics.

    “I think that’s a little extreme,” Maria Riggs said. “I don’t think it’s going to get you anywhere. I don’t think that’s the way to go.”

    “If they go up and triple their rates I might be tempted to throw my shoes at somebody,” Adam Vajda said.

    Fare hikes will likely bring more protests. The question is will anyone follow in Millies’ shoes?

    The fare hike and service cuts Millies was protesting could begin next year — unless the state comes up with more funding for the MTA


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