D.C. transit union: No special subway cars for white supremacists!
This composite Photoshopped image from Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 President Jackie Jeter expresses the union’s successful leak of and opposition to a now-dead proposal to reserve Metro subway cars for white supremacists invading D.C. for a rally at the White House on August 12. That’s the first anniversary of the racists’ riot in Charlottesville, Va., which killed counter-protester Heather Heyer. | Jackie Jeter Twitter page

WASHINGTON—Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, the biggest union among the Washington Metro system’s bus and subway workers, has blown the whistle on – and stopped – a scheme to provide three separate Metro subway cars for the white supremacists and racists descending on D.C. on August 12.

But that still leaves the question open of whether the white supremacists will get police protection for their “Unite The Right 2” crusade of hate to Lafayette Square, in front of the White House, the residence of one of their leading supporters, GOP President Donald Trump.

The racists planned the D.C. rally, and got a permit for it from the U.S. Park Police, part of Trump’s Interior Department, to mark the “anniversary” of their murderous march last year in Charlottesville, Va. There, one racist used his speeding car as a weapon against counter-protesters, mowing them down.

That racist, now being held without bond on second-degree murder charges, killed peaceful counter-protester Heather Heyer and injured dozens more. The racists plan another rally in Charlottesville this coming weekend.

To keep the peace, allegedly, between the racists and counter-protesters in D.C. on August 12, Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans, D.C.’s longest-serving city council member, suggested a plan for separate Metro cars for the racists, to keep the two groups apart on the subway system.

ATU Local 689, which is 80 percent African-American, found out about Evans’ proposal, leaked it and blasted it. Uproar ensued. Evans retreated. “Metro will not be providing a special train or special car for anyone next Sunday,” he said.

“Local 689 is proud to provide transit to everyone for the many events we have in D.C. including the March [for] Life, the Women’s March and Black Lives Matter,” President Jackie Jeter said in a statement. “We draw the line at giving special accommodation to hate groups and hate speech,” added Jeter, who is also president of the Metropolitan Washington Central Labor Council.

Jeter also noted federal courts recently approved the Metro board’s decision to ban controversial – in other words, political – ads on the buses and in the subway. Business ads pushing conservative ideas, however, have blossomed recently in Metro stations.

“Considering the courts granted Metro the ability to deny ads on buses and trains that are ‘issue-oriented,’ we find it hypocritical for” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld “to make these unprecedented special accommodations for a hate group,” Jeter said.

“More than 80 percent of Local 689’s membership is people of color, the very people the Ku Klux Klan and other white nationalist groups have killed, harassed and violated. The union has declared it will not play a role in their special accommodation,” the local said in an official statement.

“Thank you @ATULocal689!!!” Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten tweeted. “Much love & solidarity!! Not only did they block plans to provide special accommodations for white supremacists coming to DC this weekend, they’ve given another example of why we need unions!”

Individual tweeters also lauded Local 689. But several tweeters questioned why tax dollars must be used – for police – to protect the racists.

“Hey @wmata:” – the official name for the transit agency – “Metro workers, most of whom are black, should not have to provide special accommodations for people rallying for the segregation, subjugation, and elimination of black people,” tweeted Todd Brogan, the Democratic committeeman for D.C.’s African-American middle class Ward 4.

“Couldn’t agree more with @ATULocal689,” tweeted local resident Walter Deleon. “It is outrageous if my tax dollars go to state-sponsored protection of a hate group. #unitetheright protestors should not receive any special treatment from #WMATA.”

“Thank you @ATULocal689 #1U One reason we need unions. We need to put a stop to these hate groups and the assistance they receive from law enforcement to propel their message of hate,” added another tweet from a self-described activist, Emanuel Gonzales.

The retreat on the subway cars still leaves the question of extra police presence, both on the subway and in the streets, to prevent a rerun of Charlottesville. Metro’s police are consulting with D.C. police and Virginia State Police on what to do. The racists are expected to board the trains in suburban Virginia.

Monica Hopkins, executive director of the Washington branch of the ACLU, told area news media she was glad to see transit police and other police agencies planning for the rally. “But it is imperative the safety and rights of communities of color and those protesting white supremacists’ message are equally protected,” she said.


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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