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Bus Riders Union Sit-in at the MTA Board

by The Strategy Center Tuesday, Jun. 05, 2001 at 11:26 AM
laborctr@igc.org

The Bus Riders Union shut down MTA's board meeting, in the face of the board's attempts to terminate the BRU consent decree, weaken the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and build the Eastside Light Rail.

Bus Riders MTA Demo May, 01

Bus Riders Union Sit-in at the MTA Board
The Struggle For Transit Justice Continues
      By The Strategy Center
  The Bus Riders Union shut down MTA's board meeting, in the face of the board's attempts to terminate the BRU consent decree, weaken the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and build the Eastside Light Rail.

"This is how racism looks today, MTA! MTA!"
Los Angeles, MTA headquarters- One hundred and thirty Bus Riders Union members and allies shut down the May 24th MTA board meeting after the board voted to approve the draft Environmental Impact Report for the controversial Eastside Light Rail. After two hours of emotional and politically charged testimony in which the Bus Riders Union and others warned the board that approving the Eastside project would violate the BRU civil rights Consent Decree and could further jeopardize the 1964 Civil Rights Act recently weakened by the Supreme Court, the board voted to approve the draft Environmental Impact Report on the Eastide project.


The MTA's request to terminate the Consent Decree seeks to take advantage of the recent Supreme Court decision in Alexander v. Sandoval that limits the power of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.


The board vote in favor of the Eastside light rail came less than two weeks after the board asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to terminate the Consent Decree with the BRU that forces it to prioritize the bus system for minority and low-income riders. The MTA's request to terminate the Consent Decree seeks to take advantage of the recent Supreme Court decision in Alexander v. Sandoval that limits the power of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Support for the Eastside light rail project is led on the board by LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina but is supported by the entire 13-member board .

"It is disgusting to me to see this board, particularly direct benefieries of the civil rights movement like Supervisors Gloria Molina and Yvonne Burke, supporting the violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act," said Kikanza Ramsey, BRU organizer, in her testimony before the board. "You, Supervisor Molina, who used the Voting Rights Act to win your seat on the County Board of Supervisors, now want the Eastside Light Rail so badly that you are willing to line up with the Scalia/Rehnquist Court and with George W. Bush to dismantle the 1964 Civil Rights Act."


"MTA, Guilty of Intentional Discrimination."


The MTA board had to stop all business at the meeting when BRU members, organizers and allies shut down the entire board meeting.


The MTA board had to stop all business at the meeting when BRU members and organizers, supported by Centenniel High School students, Boyle Heights Mejoramiento, Local 399 Health Care Workers Union, UCLA students, Communities for a Better Environment, and others shut down the entire board meeting, chanting "This is how racism looks today, MTA, MTA." When security began to surround the protesters, the protesters fell limp to the floor as others chanted and held up signs of the consent decree that declared: "MTA, Guilty of Intentional Discrimination." Although no arrests were issued, security guards applied significant pressure to the necks and backs of the protestors, escorted one out of the building, and tried pulling other protesters apart who were locked by the arms. LAPD officers and county sheriffs stood watching on the side.



The meeting ended with a rally in the MTA boardroom.


The meeting ended with a rally in the MTA boardroom. BRU members declared, "We won't go back!" referring to the 1964 Civil Rights Act at stake with the MTA's request to vacate the Consent Decree. The BRU plans to launch a national effort to challenge religious leaders, civil rights organizations and community groups to build a nation-wide civil rights campaign for the protection and expansion of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and other civil rights laws.

"Los derechos civiles en este pais seran ganados no solamente en las cortes," declaro Maria Guardado, miembra del Sindicato de Pasajeros, "sino en las calles--con todos los pueblos de los Estados Unidos."


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