Why are Black Americans and other people of color disproportionately victims of overly aggressive police enforcement and brutality while walking, running, riding bicycles, taking public transit, or while driving? This podcast explores the ways in which people of color have had their mobility arrested.
Hosted by Charles T. Brown, the founder and CEO of Equitable Cities LLC—an urban planning, policy, and research firm working at the intersection of transportation, health, and equity. Charles will take you to the streets of Philly, the sidewalks of Seattle, the neighborhoods of Kansas City, and elsewhere around the U.S. In each place, he’ll ask: What can we do to change the outcomes when people of color step out their door to exist in the world?
Beyond Turnstiles: Seeking Justice in Transit, Not Just Fares
A local bus or train ride usually costs between one and three dollars. But many Americans living in public transportation-dense cities choose to evade paying for transit tickets when possible. They get on the bus through the back door and avoid the driver. And in bigger cities, it’s common practice to hop the turnstile on the subway.
Fare evasion can cost transit agencies across the country tens, even hundreds of millions of dollars. It affects their ability to provide consistent bus and train service, which in turn affects riders on their way to work, school, home, or wherever they need to go.
On the other hand, enforcement of fare evasion has historically been racially targeted. When police stop people for hopping the turnstile, there is a heightened opportunity for violence against riders of color. This method of enforcement also ends up discriminating against people with lower incomes. If cities are going to enforce transit fares, it must be done in an equitable way.
We spoke to Ben Brachfeld, a transit reporter for amNewYork; Haleema Bharoocha, Policy Advocate at the Anti Police-Terror Project and author of the article, Op-Ed: Why Is Fare Evasion Punished More Severely than Speeding?; and Dr. Sogand Karbalaieali, a transportation engineer and author of the article Opinion: Fights Over Fare Evasion Are Missing the Point.
15 Critiques of the 15-Minute City
The 15-minute city, or neighborhood, was conceived by Carlos Moreno, a professor and influencer in Paris. It’s an area where residents can access everything they need in their life - food, work, school, community gathering places - within 15 minutes of their home. The 15-minute city reduces reliance on cars, improves the quality of life for residents, and makes cities more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
In a recent lecture with urban planning students at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, Charles spoke to students about the delicate balance required of 15-minute cities, if they are to be adopted in the United States. 15-minute cities might work in Europe, but urban planners face unique challenges when designing American cities and neighborhoods.
Roadblocks of Reality: The Plight of Undocumented Immigrants in Dairy Country
In Central Wisconsin, undocumented immigrants from Latin America make up the majority of the workforce in the dairy industry. Although these undocumented folks are allowed to own and register vehicles, they can’t get driver’s licenses without legal residency. As a result, police in rural Wisconsin often racially profile drivers of color, knowing that they may not have a license to be on the road.
We spoke to Melissa Sanchez, a reporter for ProPublica who inspired this episode with her article, “Wisconsin’s Dairy Industry Relies on Undocumented Immigrants, but the State Won’t Let Them Legally Drive.” We also heard from Tony Gonzalez, founder of the American Hispanic Association, and local dairy farmer Hans Breitenmoser.
Schooled by Fear: The Controversial Role of Police in Educational Spaces
Many Black students live in over-policed, under-funded communities. School should be a safe space for them, a refuge from surveillance and a place to explore. But almost 70% of public high schools and middle schools have police officers on site, and Black students have contact with police more often than White students. When there’s police inside the school, and police outside the school, law enforcement is a constant presence in these students' lives.
Today, we're talking to Corey Mitchell, a senior reporter at the Center for Public Integrity who co-wrote the article "When schools call police on kids." We'll hear from Dr. DeMarcus Jenkins, an assistant professor in the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. Finally, we'll speak with Amir Whitaker, senior policy counsel with the ACLU of Southern California.
Please also consider this list of resources on the topic, compiled by Subini Ancy Annamma, Ph.D: "Education and Criminalization: Do Black Lives Matter in Schools."
Railroad Roadblock: Indiana's Students Held Hostage by Unyielding Trains
In a majority Black and Latino neighborhood of Hammond, Indiana, children are clambering over and under stopped train cars to get to school. These trains are halted by rail traffic at pedestrian intersections, and there are not a lot of enforceable laws to keep them moving. Blocked crossings can pose an inconvenience, or a deadly obstacle, to Americans of all kinds. But in the United States, we usually find that the people living around train tracks are Black and Brown folks who are living in a state of arrested mobility.
In this episode, we'll talk to Topher Sanders, an investigative reporter from ProPublica who co-wrote the article, "As Rail Profits Soar, Blocked Crossings Force Kids to Crawl Under Trains to Get to School." We'll also speak to Akicia Henderson, a mother of three living in Hammond whose home is right by the train tracks.
Coming Soon: Season 2
Thank you all for listening to Season 1 of the podcast. We're happy to announce that Arrested Mobility is returning for Season 2 this July.
We’ll be covering more major themes in equity, but also diving into current events and injustices – topics like railroads disrupting Black communities, the presence of police officers in schools, food insecurity and food deserts, and much more.
This podcast is totally self-funded. So please check out our new Patreon for the podcast - that’s the best way to contribute, join our community, and get access to all-new exclusive content. You can find it at
Please visit our website, where you can read the Arrested Mobility report and review past episodes, show notes, and transcripts.
Let us know what topics we should cover in this upcoming season, or just say hi - you can reach out on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Thank you so much for your support.
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The intersection of law enforcement, human transport, structural racism, and urban design. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts about non-car mobility/walkability/bicycling, and urbanism and came across this podcast’s episode on electric scooters. Arrested Mobility is excellent. The interviewer gets right into the subject, without chatter about unrelated things. He has found super interviewees who do a great job of clarifying the issues in a concise way. (I see the most recent episode was in Nov. 2022; I hope that wasn’t the last episode.)
If you want to know about mobility justice
This is the podcast to follow. Really well done. In addition to his command of the subject, the host’s interview style brings out great content from those who join him on the show
It's about your right of way
Being able to walk around and get from place to place safety ought to be protected as a human right. But it's not. In fact, people's need to get around it's often used to punish them, part of an exploitative framework that criminalizes people, rather than behavior. This well researched and informative podcast will both upset you and inspire you to call for change. Mobility is a human right.