SFMTA Helps Crowd Control/Riot Police
Is this ever a proper role for Muni?
Reports came in over the weekend that SFMTA’s buses were chartered by the police to get cops in riot gear to protest locations in San Francisco. If so, this is at odds with the transit drivers’ union. “In the exact words of International Transit Workers Union President John Samuelson, ‘we’re not driving the bus for the cops to arrest protesters,’” said Muni operators union president Roger Marenco.
Streetsblog has asked SFMTA for more information, including its official policy on special police charters. But this tweet from KQED reporter Joe Rodriguez includes a photo of one of the “police services” buses and has a response from SFMTA:
We transport everyone at MTA and make sure our services are available for critical needs. From the COVID+ patients we transported to health care and rooms to SFPD officers, Muni is for everyone. To be clear, no Muni vehicles or employees will be used to transport any detainee.
— SFMTA (@sfmta_muni) May 31, 2020
It’s unclear to what extent Muni is aiding the police (aside from the ‘specials’) or who drove the buses in the pictures. But at least they claim “no Muni vehicles or employees will be used to transport any detainee.”
And SFMTA head Jeffrey Tumlin had this to say:
In a democracy, a sacred function of public streets is peaceful protest and grieving. Like last night, Muni buses will continue to operate, with ongoing route adjustments to keep protesters + essential workers safe. Follow @sfmta_muni and shelter screens for updates
— Jeffrey Tumlin (@jeffreytumlin) May 31, 2020
Meanwhile, The TransitCenter is standing with operators who don’t want the police to “…commandeer their labor during the protests.” And from nominated SFMTA director Jane Natoli:
This is the last thing we should be doing with Muni buses https://t.co/s5VjZsRjQQ
— Jane Natoli 🥑🚲 (@wafoli) May 31, 2020
Marenco agreed, and expanded on the operators’ view in an email to Streetsblog:
After watching the real life crimes that the police officers have been committing, such as:
1 – murder (George Floyd)
2 – assault with a deadly weapon (driving at high speeds into crowds of people)
3 – attempted murder (trying to kill protesters by running them over with police cars)
we the union members of TWU Local 250A will not be aiding the SFPD. If the MTA wants to assist the SFPD, so be it, however TWU will not assist.
Streetsblog New York reports that their transit agency’s drivers made the police get their own bus.
Update June 2:
seen on facebook, another video of muni buses used as riot cop transport.
— chris arvin 💕 🌁 (@chrisarvinsf) June 2, 2020