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MTA Bus Driver Refuses to Help Cops Haul off Anti-Brutality Protesters

11:53 PM EDT on May 29, 2020

Here was the scene outside the Barclays Center when an MTA bus driver refused to drive arrested protesters on behalf of the NYPD. Photo: Jane Kuntzman

He works for the people, not the police.

An MTA bus driver refused to drive anti-police protesters away from their rally at the Barclays Center on Friday night after cops commandeered the Flatbush Avenue bus and started loading it with people who had been arrested during a rally in outrage to the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer this week.

A witness told Streetsblog that the B41 bus had several passengers on it when the police blocked its path and started pushing arrested people onto it.

New York Socialist captured some of the action on video:

The driver was lauded by his union on Friday night, even as protests continued across the borough:

It's not the first time MTA workers have refused to participate in police actions.

“None of our bus ops [operators] should be used for that. We didn't do it during Zucotti Park/Occupy Wall St. went to court against this,” JP Patafio, vice president of Transit Workers Union Local 100, told Vice. “I told MTA our ops wont be used to drive cops around,” he added. "It is in solidarity" with Minneapolis' bus drivers."

Bus drivers in the Twin Cities are also refusing to aid police as part of the Justice for George Floyd movement.

"Minneapolis bus drivers — our members — have the right to refuse the dangerous duty of transporting police to protests and arrested demonstrators away from these communities where many of these drivers live," Local 1005 President John Costa said in a statement, reported by Common Dreams.

"More than ever, we need a new civil rights movement," the union added in a letter posted to social media. "A civil rights movement that is joined with the labor movement. ... In ATU we have a saying, 'Not One More' when dealing with driver assaults which in some cases have led to members being murdered while doing their job. We say 'Not One More' execution of a black life by the hands of police."

The mention of community is crucial. Studies show that most bus drivers live in the cities where they work. In New York City, 51 percent of cops live outside the city.

NY Post reporter David Meyer pointed out the irony of the Local 100 brass sticking up for a rank-and-file member who defied the police, given the cozy relations between the transit workers and the police officers unions:

The NYPD does have the authority to commandeer MTA buses in emergency situations, an MTA spokesperson said. But it is also true that bus operators may decline to drive when that occurs.

The spokesperson also said it was too early for the agency to issue an official comment on the incident in question.

This is a breaking story. We will update later.

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