Cincinnati Metro Says It Will No Longer Let CPD Use Its Buses to Transport Arrested Protesters

They are going to sell the city some old buses though, presumably for CPD to use however they want

Jun 5, 2020 at 2:33 pm
click to enlarge A Metro bus being used to transport arrested protestors - Photo: Nick Swartsell
Photo: Nick Swartsell
A Metro bus being used to transport arrested protestors

Cincinnati Metro has released a statement regarding the highly criticized use of its buses to transport large amounts of arrested protesters to the Hamilton County Justice Center over the weekend. 

On Sunday, May 31, Metro stopped operating to the public at 9 p.m., cutting off a publicly funded transportation option for essential workers and other humans. Later in the evening, at least four Metro buses — operated by non-union drivers — were used to transport arrested protesters to the justice center.

At that time, Troy Miller, President/Business Agent of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 627, said, "Our buses are not for hauling people arrested. And I'm not supporting that."

Miller said Mayor John Cranley called him around 10:30 p.m. Sunday night to ask if drivers could operate the Metro for those reasons, and Miller said no because the union operators were off work at that time and because it would put his people at risk. After their discussion, Miller says Cranley went to the SORTA board to secure drivers. 

"No organized labor was involved," Miller says. "I want that message out there because our drivers are all organized, they all represent the public."

"They shut the service down and turn around and go and do that. It sends the wrong message to the public," he says.

He also said, in an issued statement, "We condemn the tragic killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police and respect the rights of the people of Cincinnati to protest this police brutality and racial profiling. We refuse to put our bus operators in danger by being forced to drive buses to the protests to take arrested demonstrators to jail."

The next night, Monday, Metro buses were again used to transport arrested protesters, but this time the buses were operated by CPD officers who had a license to do so. (Apparently officers need a CDL, or commercial drivers license, to drive their armored vehicles.) 

People were not thrilled overall, including Better Bus Coalition president and transit activist Cam Hardy. 

Metro has now issued a statement saying it will no longer allow CPD to use its vehicles, but they will be selling them three out-of-service buses for $7,500 (total). 

They also say they support their operators' decision not to drive the buses full of protesters to jail.

"As a publicly funded transportation agency, we support our community's right to peacefully protest. We support the cause for justice and equality. We also abhor the violence that has been perpetrated. It is up to each of us to stand up for what is right, challenge our own biases and work to bring about the change we want to see in our community. As an organization, we pledge to do that work." 

The letter goes on to say they will be taking a deeper look at their policies and trying to do more to connect citizens with jobs, health care, social services and education via transportation. They also thanked the people — presumably those who complained a lot on social media and most likely called them out in various other ways — for holding them accountable. 

"We heard you," the letter ends.

Read it in full below: