FAR ROCKAWAY, Queens (WABC) -- The MTA is speaking out against a spike in subway vandalism and a massive protest in NYC last week.
Activists crowded Grand Central Terminal last week and cost taxpayers $100,000 as they tried to make their point that MTA service should be free and police should back off from enforcing crimes like turnstile jumping.
Banners were also unfurled in Brooklyn and at the World Trade Center Oculus promoting the protests, called "(Expletive) Your $2.75," with organizers saying the goal is to remove officers from the subway system and provide for free transit.
The MTA spoke out on Thursday and said they respect freedom of speech, however the protests caused significant damage.
"What we had that day was a lot of cases of vandalism which unfortunately took a lot of our team, took a lot of our focus away from our normal repairs and improvements that we could have been making for customers, instead we were working through the system to correct a lot of damage that occurred," said Sally Librera with the MTA Department of Subways.
The MTA said dozens of stations were vandalized. Police are still searching for suspects who were caught on camera using a hammer to smash three OMNY video screens at the 145th Street station.
They are also searching for those responsible for pouring glue into MetroCard readers and trashing the station.
"Everything we do is for the customers, to give them a nice environment, to give them safe and reliable service and we want to promote that at every opportunity, "Librera said. "Vandalism that detracts from that is certainly not something that we would ever support."
The MTA also responded to the demonstrators' demands for free service.
"If we were not to charge fares we would have to come up with billions of dollars of revenue in order to support the system," Librera said
Eyewitness News reached out to the group that organized the protest, Decolonize This Place, for a comment but our calls were not returned.
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