This Thursday, the WMATA Board of Directors will vote on a new rule to allow Metro Transit Police to suspend or ban people from transit if they're arrested – not convicted – for certain criminalized actions while using Metro.
The stated intent of the policy is to make public transit safer, but if enacted, this policy will expand the power of Metro Transit Police to stop, search, suspend, and arrest riders without any meaningful due process. Riders who are wrongfully suspended would have to appeal the suspension in writing to someone appointed by WMATA, who would have over two weeks to issue a final, binding decision. If that rider gets on a train or bus pending the outcome of their appeal, they can be arrested for criminal trespass.
Metro Transit Police has no independent oversight and a documented history of excessive force tactics and overpolicing of Black and brown riders for minor offenses such a fare evasion or eating and drinking. Expanding Metro Transit Police powers to suspend or ban riders is also likely to increase confrontations between officers and riders, making Metro less safe for everyone.
WMATA has not provided any evidence that banning riders from public transit will deter unwanted behavior. Arbitrary enforcement of this policy will especially harm those who rely on public transit the most and could result in loss of jobs or access to basic needs such as grocery stores, schools, court appointments, or other critical services.
Take action above by sending a letter to the WMATA Board of Directors demanding they vote NO on this proposal at their July 29 meeting.
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