I live in Miami, Florida. I love living in Miami most of the time. Today is not one of those times though. After hearing the story of 82 year-old Emma Anderson being dragged off a Metrorail train at the Brickell station some seven miles away from her home on February 20, 2013.
Mrs. Anderson was asked to stop singing by one of the security guards representing 50 State Security, a subcontractor hired by Miami-Dade County. When Mrs. Anderson didn’t stop, the security guard forcibly removed her from the train. In the process, Mrs. Anderson’s hip and shoulder were injured.
Since this is 2013, you know some folks on the train captured the incident on their cell phones. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez quickly apologized for the incident. Hearing about it is bad enough, seeing it and hearing the comments from witnesses makes it all the more disgusting.
Some folks have focused on the religious aspect of this incident because Mrs. Anderson was singing gospel songs. Other folks have tried to make it a racial issue as Mrs. Anderson is black and the guard appears to be white Hispanic.
It’s reasonable to believe that Mrs. Anderson wasn’t asked to stop singing because she chose to sing a religious song. She was asked to stop singing because she was singing too loud and drumming on her thigh. While that is in violation of a noise rule, an elderly woman should not have been treated in such an inhumane manner.
This is the response from Miami-Dade Transit spokesperson Karla Damian:
Miami-Dade Transit has a responsibility to all its passengers to provide a safe and comfortable travel experience. The elderly passenger, Ms. Anderson, who was escorted from a Metrorail train, was initially asked by a security guard to refrain from singing loudly and playing an instrument while on the train.
She refused to comply. County rules associated with transit use prohibit anyone from singing, dancing or playing a musical instrument unless a commercial permit is issued by MDT. Further, Ms. Anderson’s singing was causing a disturbance to other passengers and impeding important train announcements from being heard.
We regret that Ms. Anderson had to eventually be escorted out, but regardless of age, all passengers need to abide by the rules associated with using transit.
Really, Ms. Damian? This is the best response you guys could come up with? Wow. I shudder to think how any prudent individual could describe the guard's actions as "escorting" Mrs. Anderson.
As far as the racial aspect goes, one cannot read the thoughts of the security guard who assaulted Mrs. Anderson but there have been other documented incidents involving 50 State Security. Check out this video on The Huffington Post. Miami photographer and blogger Carlos Miller was physically restrained then handcuffed by 50 State guards at a Metrorail station. He is white.
How long are the Mayor and Board of County Commissioners going to allow this abuse to continue? I live in Miami, Florida. I love living in Miami most of the time. Today is not one of those times though.