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Person Of Color Singled Out By Trimet Fare Inspector

I boarded the 17 Holgate bus going from Portland at a stop near 17th and Powell around 1:55pm today.
A few blocks down fare inspectors boarded and began asking people for their proof of fare. First 2 people presented Honored Citizen bus passes. They were asked for their additional card that is supposed to accompany this type of pass. Each person explained they did not have it. Each one was told that they need to have this. No further action was taken. Then another person on the bus presented his HC bus pass. He was told he needed to have the additional card as well. He explained in the very same polite manner that he did not have this. He was then removed from the bus by the fare inspectors. So what was the ONLY difference between this man and the other 2? He was the only black person on the bus.

This to me is a very clearcut case of everyday racism. Oh sure, maybe he should have had his extra card(which is a very questionable policy at best). Oh sure, she took him off the bus using polite language. But, why then did the 2 white people not require this very same extra card and/or removal?

Honored Citizen bus passes are reserved for the most vulnerable people of our communities, the elderly and disabled. SHAME on Trimet for picking on this man!

bus passes stolen 12.Jul.2005 16:01

Janet

A bunch of the honored citizen passes were stolen (July Honored Citizens passes). Trimet officials are looking for them. They know the numbers of these passes. Wonder if this has anything to do with it.

"bus rider" should be able to easily verify... 12.Jul.2005 17:35

Tony Blair's dog

if the inspectors cross-referenced the card numbers with some kind of list.

When and where were "a bunch of the honored citizen passes were stolen (July Honored Citizens passes)"?

You are in denial 12.Jul.2005 17:41

Not caucasian

Thinking that the inspector knew the numbers or codes of the missing or stolen passes to justify a racist action will keep you in denial and in the dark about racism. Sorry Janet, but the "law" is never fair or evenly enforced.

People with power and authority will quickly access who might be easy to target based on age/skin color/ clothes/etc. and use their power to be assholes. When I was hit by a car while riding my bike, the person who hit me was in a suit, a caucasian woman, older than me. I was wearing all black, not caucasian and the first cop on the scene was a complete asshole to me, even though I was the VICTIM. This happens everyday, all the time.

One option 12.Jul.2005 20:12

jason

This does sound bad, but one possiblity is a past record. I know trimet has a policy of issuing warnings the first time you are caught without a fare, and ticketing or removing repeat offenders. So, it is possible this man had been warned before--However, I don't actually know if this policy even extends to other violations.

Also, he could have had an honored citizens card in someone elses name.

I don't want to make excuses, but I'm a pretty big fan of Tri-met and in fairness it seems like there could be more to this story than we see here.

On the other hand, I have seen fare inspectors harrass young people, especially ones who dress like rappers--regardless of ethnicity.

Why does tri-met dress it's inspectors like cops, it makes them act like it. They should wear silly hats and bright green t-shirts or something.

I've seen this happen 13.Jul.2005 00:37

August

I can't speak to the veracity of the incident posted here, but I've seen fare inspectors do something similar. Once I saw them walk the length of the max car only checking fares of non-whites. It was one of those things where if you didn't realize what was happening, it wouldn't register, because it was so fucked up. I wish I had said something, but I just didn't believe what I was seeing.

the excuses don't apply! 13.Jul.2005 11:04

bus rider

All 3 people only flashed their Honored Citizen pass. The inspectors did not check any numbers or even touch or hold any of the passes. The person of color did not present a card with someone elses name. Just like the 2 white people, he explained politely that he did not have his secondary piece of id that is required with the HC pass. They did not act in a manner that suggested a previous record. They did no checks or anythings until he was taken off the bus. So, why was he removed and further harassed and the white people were not?
It's so blatant, yet apparently deniable. What a brilliant racist Trimet has employed.

get real 14.Jul.2005 10:22

sad

first of all the individual who initiated this news,why cry here now??? did you not have the oppurtunity to stand up right then and there, i almost put a question mark there but there is no need of one.and also to the "non caucasion" individual,yes discrimination is for real. why though do you have to be a crybaby about it all in the sense of what color one is??? big up,quit whining,and do something about it in a way that benifets everyone who gets sorted out to the side.by the way,my skin color is earth,and my dreads used to hang freely to the middle of my back,that bieng until clackamas co. took them from me forcibly. so many people are so caught up in the poor me adittude that they,you are missing out on doing anything real on making true changes.

Cataylst 14.Jul.2005 10:47

BrianS

Why didn't you just straight up confront the Tri-Met inspectors on this? I know I've done it to Tri-met and the cops. I almost run over with a police car and shot with a tazer over cop watching.

What sort of organizing are you doing in your community or is this just reactionary? I don't know who's doing this post so I'm just going to take a blunt approach.

If you care to remember I was targeted by a large group of black kids at the Tri-met stop on 82nd and they tried to attack me and steal my bike. Why because I was basically alone and white. Lucky I defused the situation by defending myself and communication. Rather than giving them the disipline and education somebody else should be doing. Unless your serious about organizing in your community this type of crap is still going to continue. I'll get harrassed by gangs of punk ass kids with nothing better to do than start fights at Max Stops trying to be the big man and minorities will continue to be kicked off Tri-met by the man. So basically everybody wants to be the big man, but I say fuck the big man. I want to tear him down.

After the little research I have done, there doesn't seem to be any radical groups of color that are active in Portland. Personally I know I'm white, and don't have any business telling other communities what to think or do. Totally down being in solidarity and working together, I'm actually wishing that day would come sooner. I sure wish we had better solidarity network in Portland around racial and class lines. But we don't right now!!! THe only place I was referred to put my energy on this issue was the Victory School, which I found out helps recovering drug adicts by the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing against religous folks, but it's just not my taste. We need to be building a movement not reactionary actions.

Example your never going to kill a Blackberry bush if you just cut branches, you'll keep cutting it back again and again and again and again........

Peace,
B

Reply to "Sad" post 14.Jul.2005 13:49

BrianS

Your speaking some truth. I think in some ways what you and I said are about starting a movement rather than reactionary crying. People need to organize their people, work in solidarity, and all power to the people. People need to learn to defend themselves from all this racist bullshit.

Seriously on another note, has anybody noticed the increasing number of fat ass Pickerton rent a cops and there fancy trucks??? Wonder why fares keep going up? People need to wake up and organize.

no great excuse, but 15.Jul.2005 00:09

bus rider

To be honest, I'm human. It happened really fast. As soon as he responded that he didn't have the extra piece of id they ushered him off the bus and he was sitting right next to the door to begin with. I was only half paying attention until they started to remove him. Then the bus driver, eager to leave, closed the doors and left. If I'd been thinking on my toes I would have gotten off at the next stop and walked back. But I didn't think of it.

My hope is that maybe someone has an idea of what to do. I thought about calling the complaint department. But I don't really think that'd do anything. At least not without enough publicity. I thought perhaps if I sent an email with a link to an article on a popular public forum with comments expressing outrage that might have a little more teeth. But I'm totally open to suggestions.

To the person who called "not Caucasian" a cry baby: Wow, you are fucked up. Get over yourself. Yes it's important to organise. Ridicule is NOT organizing or even productive. Do you actually got any ideas or are you just fat mouthin'?

to BrianS 15.Jul.2005 08:38

bus rider

There are several radical POC groups in Portland. Not surprisingly, they don't have much interest in working with white radicals. There are lots and lots of reasons for that. But because the average white radical is so out of touch with these communities, they have no idea these groups exist(for those who are confused, I do mean communitIES plural. There is no one, mythical, unified black community).

I'm having some trouble understanding why you brought up the MAX stop incident. Are you trying to tie together racial clashes and unequal enforcement as symptoms of systemic origin? Poor white people get picked on because they are the most accessible target that resembles the oppressors. By design working and middle classes of people are the rich man's buffer. Also white people of all classes because of their priviledged status tend to have an entitlement complex that can be very grating on the nerves. I think that this is all clearly of systemic origin.

So what can be done? I see lots of empty calls for organising but very few actual ideas.

I agree comrads 16.Jul.2005 11:45

Michael b.

We need to come together and organize.

It sucks that it happened before you could do anything about it. I've been on the bus and heard the driver yelling at somone at a stop, by the time I got to the front of the bus, the bus had taken off. I think trimet drivers are trained to escape conflict when they can. As for the fare inspectors bieng racist. It's a problem with many institutions. Institutions exert power over people. They try to govern. When people systemicly resist them by challenging thier governance through lawsuits, complaints, and protest they look for eisier targets. The poor, and people of color are often forced to fit the bill.
Institutions have a perogative or incentive to govern, because if they don't they loose the support of other institutions. I'm sure that if the fare inspectors drasticly reduced the number of arrests they made to reflect whats really going on thier intire department would no doubt be replaced by some pinkertons, or other subcontractors. Sounds to me like they're overstaffed.
Cops have arrest qoutas, would anyone be supprised if fare inspectors do too? I'd be supprised if fare inspectors that don't find "problems" kept thier jobs for very long. This creates one hell of an incentive for them to make problems. I'm sure that there isn't a written policy of racism at trimet after all the drivers are a diverse group of people. The policy is probably more like an incetive embodied in a qouta.

As for what we can do. Make a formal letter of protest to the racist action you witnessed and any trimet ticking qouta policy that promotes similar harrasment of people of color and the poor. Contact sisters for action in power (503-331-1244.) They do good work in that community and have worked on reducing bus fares for low income students. See if they have contacts through thier previous work that will be able to change the ticketing qouta policy, or if one exists. If they don't maybee they'd be interested in signing on to the letter. Either way I'd send the letter to the director of trimet -here's some helpfull links:
 http://trimet.org/offices.htm (general administrative contact)
 http://trimet.org/inside/board.htm (board of directors)

Send your letter to thier complaint department, and to the local weekly papers. Informing aggressors of your greivance is the first step in the process of action.

"Bus rider" and Brian please don't tear each other down. Sometimes this forum can become like bieng in a crowded room with the lights off, and viciously punching anyone you make contact with. I know for a fact that you both do good work, that you both do common work. I believe you're revolutionaries. We have to many forces arrayed against us to take blind shots at who we are, and what we do. As for class priveledge, some of the most inspiring revolutionaries throughout history have been middle class. What devides the wheat from the chaff is that they were willing to risk thier lives, subvert "thier" priveledge/resources to working for the people, and they supported others that did the same.

In love and war,
mb

What I have been suggesting is this 16.Jul.2005 14:47

Brian

I've been active in mainly labor and globalization issues, so the reason I brought my incident at the MAX stop was that it woke me up that the activist community really has little organization around taking action against violence and racism.

What I was asking for 2 weeks ago was people interested in working on this. And No I don't feel like doing all the work myself just because of the reason "bus rider" brought up because I'm white. Which really doesn't mean much to me, but I realize it does to others.

In my incident I made some pretty clear ideas for non-violent actions but didn't get much response to that as far as people directly interested in doing something. By all means 'Bus Rider" if you want to start working on a group dedicated to taking action to racism, sexism, violence, and outreach on this then LET'S DO IT. Yes, I have tried to get in touch with radical POC groups, one of which I really had high hopes for PCLF but from what I've heard they have dissolved.

Recently I've got contact info for "Sister's in Action" and "VOZ". I plan on working on some ideas then going to talk with them in the near future. I'd love to have more people working on this.

Thanks for the post MikeB, I know I've been alittle stressed lately. Probably should layoff the responses on here, definately say I'm coming off alittle harsh. I think after growing up in Miami, I have a different take on some issues of class and racism. In Miami being white is the minority, and being an activist is even more in the minority. Though living in Portland, it is very different. I've seen all types of racist/sexist crap, on both sides really...which is just a symptom of culture and capitalism in general.

One more thing 16.Jul.2005 14:52

Brian

In my situation, I really wanted to do something besides call the police on the group that attacked me. I'm well aware that the police are looking for young black males to get into the prison system. Where these same kids will have even less opportunity. So what only options as a white activist do I have other than calling authorities???

This is more like it 16.Jul.2005 20:38

bus rider

Yay, thanks for the ideas! This is more what I was hoping for. :)

America is Regressing 13.Mar.2006 08:08

Zach Borzotta

In school we are learning about the Civil Rights Movement right now, adn the first thing that started it was Rosa Parks, who was taken off a bus. Not for the same reason, but the concept is still the same. America was actually doing better for a while, even though we still kind of stereotype black people as being bad people. Now America is regressing back into teh state it was 60 or 70 years ago.

Disorderly Conduct by Fare Inspector 30.Nov.2007 23:16

Grace Messenger

My name is Grace Messenger and I am Disabled. I use a walking stick to help me. I went to Tri-Met in early September as I do every month and bought my Honored Citizens Bus Pass. I had valid fare, because I had my Medicare Card. On September 11, at 5:30 PM Bus 17 stopped at Center Street. We were boarded by Fare Inspectors. Fare Inspector John Coryell (#1394) came to me and asked to see my bus pass, he then said "Get off the bus!" I got up and he was behind me pushing me out the back door. He asked to see my ID, I asked him"Don't you want to see my Medicare Card?" He ignored me. I asked and tried to show him three times. He said "You don't look disabled enough to have an Honored Citizen bus pass!" He called Tri-Met, and due to a computer error, I was not in the database. I didn't need the Honored Citizen Card. 'ANYONE WITH A VALID MEDICARE CARD IS AUTOMATICALLY AN HONORED CITIZEN' Even though I had valid fare, he wrote a $94.00 Citation and told me to be in court on October 5. I instead mailed my 'not guilty' plea. The trial date was set. Caryell was mad that I didn't show up. I ruined his chances to railroad me and make him look good to his Supervisors. He was getting his 'quota' of Citations, and I was an unwitting Victim of discrimination, harassment and undue stress. I was put on several Meds to help me. On October 29, he sent a Cop to arrest me, the Cop was a friend of mine, and Caryell didn't know it. He said that Caryell threatened harassment and blacklisted from Tri-Met. When I told him my side, he was angry and threw up his hands and said " I want NO part of this mess, I pray you win!" He huffed off, got in his Cruiser and sped off. I was served a court paper, and on it was "Arrested/Cited on Sept. 6" He lied about the date and said that he arrested me for another violation. The Court cannot find that report!!! Nov. 30 Criminal/(Felony) Court. He had pushed for Criminal Court instead of Traffic Court. We went up before the Judge and Caryell said "Grace had invalid fare- I cut him off with Evidence and Facts including Tri-Met fliers on the Honored Citizen Policy and the Americans With Disabilities act. The Judge said "Case Dismissed!" Caryell, when faced with the Truth, looked like a fool. Good! Chalk it up for the Disabled! Yee-hah! I want everyone to be warned about this man and others who condoned his actions. Please keep me anonymous due to continued harassment, thank you.