A follow-up to last year’s violent protests in Charlottesville, Va., the reconvening of white supremacists of various stripes for the upcoming Unite the Right 2 Rally in Washington, D.C. has law enforcement and civic agencies debating how best to keep rally attendees and counter-protesters safe.
All of our rotten eggs will be in one racist basket. Klan members? Check. Neo-Confederates? Check. Neck-bearded Nazis in snug polos? Checkity-check check. Which is why D.C.’s Metro, completely abandoning all the advice The O’Jays tried to give us about love-powered transit, is considering providing separate trains for the sentient mayonnaise droppings descending on the nation’s capital on August 12.
As The Washington Post reports, Metro board chairman Jack Evans said Metro and D.C. police are working together to prevent violent clashes between the rally attendees and counter protesters. While the transit system hasn’t made a final decision yet, Evans, who also serves as a Democratic D.C. Council member, says one potential approach may be to have the white supremacists “gather at East Falls Church Metro station, board special cars on a train to Foggy Bottom and then receive a police escort to the rally,” writes the Post.
Of course, this raises another set of problems: How would Metro ensure that counter protesters are kept separate from the Rally attendees at East Falls Church Metro or, really, any metro stop? What happens to the poor third shift worker coming home from their job and being stuck on a bus full of gassy white supremacists on the way to a rally (all that hate can’t be good for your digestive tract)? And what message would Metro be sending—and what example would it be setting—by essentially providing exclusive shuttle service for unrepentant racists? Would the same care be given to Black Lives Matter activists who may fear for their safety—or who might be met by aggressive counter protesters at future demonstrations?
“We’re not trying to give anyone special treatment,” Evans told the Post. “We’re just trying to avoid scuffles and things of that nature.”
He added that another Metro is also considering letting people ride whichever train they choose, but bolstering police presence on all the trains.
One group who isn’t on board with granting the Rally attendees their own cars is Metro’s largest union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, which first publicized the plans to give a the rally attendees three of their own “private” cars.
“Sources have shared with ATU Local 689 that a hate group with Ku Klux Klan affiliation will be provided three private Metro rail cars and police escort to Foggy Bottom Metro Station for the ‘Unite the Right’ 2018 rally,” the union said in a statement.
The union’s president, Jackie Jeter, made clear that the union would refuse to go along with any such plan.
“More than 80% of Local 689’s membership is people of color, the very people that the Ku Klux Klan and other white nationalist groups have killed, harassed and violated. The union has declared that it will not play a role in their special accommodation,” the statement said.
While Jeter said Local 689 is proud to provide service for people of varying political beliefs (Jeter referred to the March of Life, an anti-abortion rally, and Black Lives Matter as two examples), the union would “draw the line at giving special accommodation to hate groups and hate speech.”