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Press Statement: U.S. Department of Transportation Launches Investigation of LACMTA

Press Statement
Contact: Eric Mann 213.387.2800

U.S. Department of Transportation Launches Investigation of Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority for Egregious Racial Profiling and Criminalization of Black LA Metro Riders based on charges filed by Labor/Community Strategy Center

January 4, 2017 (Los Angeles, CA) – The U.S. Department of Transportation Civil Rights Division has informed the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) it has received a civil rights complaint by the Labor/Community Strategy Center that is fare checking is part of an overall policy of egregious racial discrimination against Black rail and bus riders. The DOT has initiated an investigation on LA Metro violations.

U.S. DOT wrote on December 1, 2016,
The complainants, the Labor/Community Strategy Center, allege that LACMTA, LASD, and employed and contracted police and civilian fare checkers,” are discriminating on the basis of race by demonstrating a pattern and practice of criminalization,’ stop and frisk’ fare enforcement and other quality of lifecitations and arrests on public transportation that systematically and egregiously target Black riders,” in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI). 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq…The civil rights offices at both the U.S. Department of Transportations (DOT) Office of the Secretary and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will jointly review this complaint…”

We are demanding:

An end to ‘stop and frisk’ discriminatory fare enforcement and harassment of Black passengers and withdrawal of all police and fare collection staff from MTA trains and buses

Free Public Transportation and an end to all MTA fare collections on the train. The MTA budget is $5 billion and will expand based on the 4th sales tax just passed. Fare collection is not needed and fare collection is a pretense for stop and frisk against all and especially Black passengers.

A thorough and public accounting of all police fare checks, detainments, searches, use of force, citations, and arrests on the MTA system that is disaggregated by race, gender, race within gender, age, location, criminal and/or Transit Court outcomes, and underlying criminal and/or administrative violation.

Policies of reparation, repair, and compensation to Black riders, including but not limited to granting amnesty for all outstanding citations issued on MTA buses and trains, clearing arrest records, and closure of the MTA Transit Court.

Freezing of all federal funds to the MTA pending successful implementation of remedial action and creating a federally enforced civil rights structure of oversight of all MTA policies that includes the Labor/Community Strategy Center as a recognized class representative as it was in the federal Consent Decree from 1996-2006.

Contexts and Facts

On November 14, 2016, the Labor/Community Strategy Center and Fight for the Soul of the Cities Filed a Civil Rights Complaint to the Department of Transportation and Department of Justice.   Our civil rights complaint demands an end to the systemic criminalization of “fare evasion” and LA Metro’s “Broken Windows” police tactics that create a persistently hostile system for Black riders – denying equal access to public transportation and displacing Black residents out of employment, education and affordable housing opportunities in LA. We are calling for accountability of LA Metro, the LA County Sherriff’s Department and all police and civilian fare checkers for extreme and persistent racial discrimination against Black transit riders.

LA Metro has implemented a “broken windows” approach to fare enforcement resulting in a severe pattern and practice of systemically criminalizing Black riders who are only 19% of rail riders but make up 50% of all LA Metro citations and close to 60% of Sheriffs’ arrests each year. Black riders are subjected to police stops, fare checks, racial profiling, frisks, citations, fines and even jail time as a result of discriminatory fare enforcement and heightened policing “stop and frisk” civil rights violations on transit lines and hubs serving extremely low-income communities of color. LA Metro has adopted a system of policing its clientele that perpetuates a modern day “black code” under the guise of a “stop and frisk” approach to fare enforcement. In Los Angeles, Metro’s policies and practices of policing the most marginalized and impoverished communities are contributing to conditions of large scale unemployment and housing crisis, environmental and social injustices, and ultimately a mass displacement of the Black community out of South LA to make way for gentrified development projects and a reshaping of Los Angeles along racial lines.

LA Metro Systemic Criminalization of Black riders:  

Key Components of FFSC Civil Rights Complaint to the DOT and DOJ:


Take a look at The LCSC DOT Complaint