By Orlando Lopez Bautista, BRU Organizer
I am a bus organizer. I talk to folks about their transit experience and how folks would like to see the system improved. Today I saw a group of folks who appeared homeless at the Gateway Transit Center. One of them pulled out some weed and was about to smoke it with his friends. Yes, he should not have done this in a public let alone at the transit center. Transit Security (G4S) immediately told them that they could not do that, and if they wanted to smoke they had to get away from the platform to somewhere else. Moments later one of the individuals who was shooed away tried to get on the Max to go home. The same security personnel prevented him from getting to the platform of his Max and threatened to call the police on him. At this point, I tried to intervene and told the Security person that he was just trying to go home. G4S said that he was selling drugs and that he was trying to get to go somewhere else to sell. He based this accusation on the fact that he saw the person with baggies of drugs when the individual only had one bag of weed that he was trying to smoke with his friend. At no point did he ever try to sell drugs to anyone, seriously who the hell sells weed anymore when we have so many dispensaries in Portland!
The houseless person decides to walk away because he didn’t want the police to be called on him. He leaves and refuses to talk more about the matter as he is mad and frustrated. He goes around the station trying to bypass the security but G4S immediately stops him and once again threatens to call the police and forces him to leave.
I moved to the next platform to talk to more folks about their experience. I see a person who is trying to rush to the Max going downtown, only for the doors to close in front of him. The operator sees him but does not open the door and leaves him behind. I go over to him, and ask him if this has happened to him before, he says that it has happened on numerous occasions not just on Max but from bus drivers as well. But he also refuses to give more information (some folks fear reprisal others don’t want to draw attention to themselves, both were black men who probably don’t want to deal with police). I bid him a good day and I as I am walking away I overhear two bus drivers who are joking with the G4S security about the first incident and laughing about it.
I am Appalled! I am Angry! I am Frustrated! That these are people that work in our transit agency and that our communities have to deal with on a regular basis! I hear these stories on a regular base but it is so much more infuriating to witness and not be able to do anything about it in that moment! It is tearing me inside and I want to scream every curse word at them for their white privilege, their power trip, their false sense of superiority, their lack of empathy, and frankly their racism! I was so incredibly mad that I shed tears of rage today. I intend to file a complaint later with TriMet about the incident.