D.C. Council members and the Metro’s largest union are criticizing the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for providing “Unite the Right 2” rally participants a private train Sunday, The Washington Post reported Monday.
Metro officials said last week they wouldn’t offer demonstrators a separate train to the rally, but riders were barred from entering the Vienna Metro Station at about 2 p.m. as rally participants boarded a train designated “special” and headed to the Foggy Bottom Metro Station, according to The Post.
Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly said in an interview with The Post that the separate train was provided to ensure safety for white nationalists led by demonstration organizer Jason Kessler and counterprotesters. Any changes to traffic patterns were prompted by police for “crowd management,” she said.
“The Kessler group traveled from Vienna to Foggy Bottom on a regularly scheduled train, together with other passengers, media and law enforcement,” Ly said.
Ly added that the trains displayed “special” to signify they would stop at Foggy Bottom due to major track work that closed part of the Farragut West, McPherson Square and Metro Center stations over the weekend.
About 25 white nationalists marched from the Foggy Bottom Metro Station to Lafayette Square Sunday – the second iteration of a demonstration that ended in violence last year in Charlottesville, Va. Counterprotests broke out around the District and those who mobilized to oppose the rally outnumbered the initial demonstration.
Councilmember Jack Evans – who represents Ward 2, which includes Foggy Bottom, and serves as chairman of WMATA’s board – initially said WMATA considered providing private accommodations to rally attendees. But last week, he refuted the statement amid backlash from groups calling the service “special treatment.”
Jackie Jeter – the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, the Metro’s largest union representing train operators and most other employees – told The Post the situation reignited her call for WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld to resign.
“The special accommodation for a hate rally in Washington D.C. was dishonest, unprecedented and not a reflection of the principles of ATU Local 689 or D.C. Values,” Jeter said.
D.C. Councilmembers also spoke out to criticize the Metro’s response.
Charles Allen, a councilmember who represents Ward 6, called the situation “unbelievably wrong” and “disgraceful” in a tweet Sunday evening.
Giving white supremicists & hate groups a private Metro railcar is so unbelievably wrong & disgraceful. Beyond the horrible precedent it sets, what does it tell the riding public & operators? Plus, it’s the exact opposite of what @WMATA said they’d do. https://t.co/GSw6lIXjfH
— Charles Allen (@charlesallen) August 12, 2018
Robert White, an at-large councilmember, said in a tweet Monday evening that the situation “broke the trust of WMATA employees and our residents.”