FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WASHINGTON – On Thursday, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board will consider a rule change that would ban riders from Metro if arrested for certain crimes while using Metro. The following can be attributed to Nassim Moshiree, Policy Director, ACLU of the District of Columbia:
“In our criminal legal system, people are innocent until proven guilty; if they vote for this, WMATA’s unelected board proposes to reverse that presumption and punish people based on accusations alone.
WMATA’s proposal raises a lot of troubling questions. What's the evidence this policy would serve as an effective deterrent or increase riders’ safety? What would enforcement look like? The criminal code varies for the three WMATA jurisdictions, and how would violators even be identified?
The likely outcome of such a policy is more racially discriminatory stops and frisks and arrests by Metro Transit Police, an agency already known for its excessive force tactics and overpolicing of Black and brown riders for minor offenses such a fare evasion or eating and drinking. The proposal would unduly impact those who rely on public transit and raises significant due process concerns in stripping people of access to a critical public service—a service they may need to attend court appearances or see a parole officer—based on an arrest, not a conviction, and without an opportunity to be heard by a neutral decisionmaker.
We urge the WMATA board to reject this proposal."