As the organizer behind last year's deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, prepares to hold a similar event across from the White House later this month, Metro officials in Washington, D.C. are reportedly mulling over ways to avoid potentially violent confrontations between rallygoers and counter-protesters. But among the options reportedly being considered is one that has angered Metro's largest union. According to the Washington Post, Metro is considering providing separate trains for white nationalist "Unite the Right" rallygoers.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 was the first to report that the D.C. Metro was considering using special, segregated trains to transport Unite the Right attendees. "Sources have shared with ATU Local 689 that a hate group with Ku Klux Klan affiliation will be provided three private Metro rail cars and police escort to Foggy Bottom Metro Station for the 'Unite the Right' 2018 rally," according to a statement from the union, as The Washington Post reported.
Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans, however, told the paper that no decisions about how the company would approach service to the Unite the Right rally site on Aug. 12 had been finalized. "We haven't made any decisions about anything," he said. "We're just trying to come up with potential solutions on how to keep everybody safe... We're not trying to give anyone special treatment. We're just trying to avoid scuffles and things of that nature."
What's more, a spokesperson for Metro reportedly refused to confirm if the transit company was considering separate trains when questioned by an NBC News affiliate. "As we do for all events of this nature, Metro is working collaboratively with law enforcement to ensure safe travel for our customers and employees," News4 reported Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said in a statement. "While details of the plan are security sensitive at this stage, I can tell you that it has not been finalized."
But Metro might find operating those special trains difficult should it decide to go that route. ATU Local 689 President Jackie Jeter has said that the union, which has a membership comprised largely of people of color, won't support Metro efforts designed to provide special services to members of a hate group.
"We draw the line at giving special accommodation to hate groups and hate speech, especially considering that the courts granted Metro the ability to deny ads on buses and trains that are 'issue-oriented,'" NBC News reported Jeter said. "We find it hypocritical for [Metro General Manager and CEO] Mr. [Paul] Wiedefeld to make these unprecedented special accommodations for a hate group."
The Washington Post reported in June that Jason Kessler, one of the organizers of last year's deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, had been given initial approval to hold another Unite the Right rally in Lafayette Square on Aug. 12, 2018, the one year anniversary of the Charlottesville rally. In his National Mall Special Event permit, Kessler reportedly described his event as a "white civil rights" rally organized to protest "civil rights abuse in Charlottesville."