To The Seattle Times
Ferguson can happen anywhere, anytime. It tried to happen Wednesday morning on the #40 bus heading north from Ballard. A young black man got on and refused to pay. According to witnesses and the driver, he has done this repeatedly and always with some uncharitable words to the driver.
On this particular day the driver decided to take a stand and said, “You have not paid so don’t cross that line”. The young man stood looking down at the yellow line for a moment and then walked to the back of the bus and sat in the middle of the rear seat. The bus driver turned off the bus and called the police. He made an announcement apologizing to the rest of the passengers that the bus was not going to move until the police arrived.
Meanwhile, the non-paying black man began talking and laughing with a couple other African Americans in the back. The bus didn’t move and everyone waited and waited. After about twenty minutes a few passengers got off to wait for, and get on the next #40. Eventually everybody got off including the non-payer and his new acquaintances from the back of the bus.
Sure enough, when the next bus arrived everybody got on including the non-payer who went right to the back seat and sat in the middle with what could only be described as a satisfied smirk.
I find this very disturbing. First, I am shocked that the Seattle police do not see Metro bus safety as a red-alert priority after the murder of Metro driver Mark McLaughlin. King County Metro is fantastic (especially if you compare it with San Francisco’s MUNI). Secondly, after what happened in Ferguson, I cannot help but experience depression at the deconstruction of our society. Here again was an individual who was a law-breaker causing a problem; not a serious problem, but a problem and certainly an inconvenience for all the other passengers who all got to work half an hour late that day because of him. I have to confess that I am very disturbed that the other black passengers seemed happy to join in the taunting rather than telling the guy to “cool it”.
What if: the driver had decided that enough was enough and took it upon himself to eject the guy. Imagine that scene. What if some passenger had interceded and a fight had ensued? What if some other passenger was armed and while the driver or other passenger and the non-payer were fighting stepped in and shot the guy? A lot of what ifs could have been avoided by swift action by the Seattle police. Sounds like an NRA dream scenario. Ferguson is here. Time to face the music folks: build new schools, provide decent housing and jobs. Embrace polychromaticism.