T workers to Poftak: Stop busing police

It’s ‘heartbreaking, hypocritical, and embarrassing’

The following is an open letter to MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak that appears on stopbusingcops.org. The Fiscal and Management Control Board told the T to stop transporting police to George Floyd demonstrations on Thursday, but T employees say the transit authority continued to provide busses Thursday night.

ON MONDAY, you sent the staff of the MBTA an email saying that we cannot consider ourselves part of the solution if we remain silent about continued examples of racism that devalue, degrade, and destroy our communities of color.” The next day, the MBTA transported busloads of police to a protest against racist policing, escalating the potential for violence against those communities of color. We will not be silent: this is not okay.

The MBTA can be a wonderful force for good in the city of Boston, and especially for its black population. Our buses bring economic access, opportunity, and freedom of movement to our bus-dependent riders, who are disproportionately black. For the MBTA to use those very same buses to bring police and their weapons to those very same people is heartbreaking, hypocritical, and embarrassing.

We at the MBTA have a role to play in fighting police violence. As you said: We all have a responsibility to look at ourselves and ask ourselves, what can I do? Here’s what you can do:

  1. Refuse to allow MBTA buses to be used in Boston Police and Mass State Police’s attacks on the people of Boston. Refuse to bring police and their weapons to protests. Refuse to transport any people they arrest.
  2. Instruct our Transit Police officers not to join other police forces in any future violence against those protesting police brutality.
  3. Publicly denounce the violence perpetrated by Boston Police and Mass State Police this week, and call for them to deescalate by shrinking and demilitarizing their operations.
  4. Lead the way in reducing the negative impact policing has on our riders’ communities by reducing our policing budget, and pressure Boston and other municipalities and institutions to follow suit.
Here at the T, the safety of our riders is our highest priority. We do great work keeping our riders safe while they’re in our system. We must not undo that work by contributing to the police forces endangering our riders on the street.

Meet the Author
The MBTA has the power to affect the outcome of this week’s events. By acknowledging that police presence makes the situation more dangerous, and by acting to reduce that presence, you can take fuel off of this fire, deescalate the violence, and keep our riders safe.

This commentary appeared on stopbusingcops.org.